After his marriage to a Jewish Israeli woman dissolves, Yosef returns to his mother’s home in a Druze village with his two teenagers in tow. Director Adi Adwan, a native of Daliyat el-Carmel (near Haifa), offers an intimate glimpse into the type of insular and tradition-bound community he grew up in. The Druze adhere to a cohesive theology that emphasizes unity. From his neighbors’ perspective, Yosef committed a grave transgression when he left the village, and their reaction to his return is chilly at best. After his family home is vandalized with threatening graffiti and his mother is expelled from her place of worship, Yosef is forced to decide whether he can safely stay in his hometown. A tale about the disturbing effects that closed cultures have on individual lives, Arabani is enlivened by the breakthrough performances of its unknown cast. Daniella Niddam conveys quiet strength as Yosef’s lovely daughter Smadar, who turns heads with her decidedly modern ways, and Zuhaira Sabbagh does a flawless job of conveying the inner turmoil of a mother forced to choose between her faith and her family. US Premiere
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