Where Do We Go Now? (2011/2012)
Director: Nadine Labaki
Cast: Nadine Labaki, Leyla Hakim, Yvonne Maalouf
Studio: Canal+/Sony Pictures 40542 [9/11/12]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: Arabic DTS-HD MA 5.1, English & French PCM stereo
Extras: English commentary track by director and others, An evening with Nadine Labaki, Khaled Mouzanar and Anne-Dominique Toussaint (Producer), “The Making of Where Do We Go Now?,” Making the Music
Length: 110 minutes
The second film from Lebanese actress/filmmaker Labaki is set in an unnamed village where the Greek Orthodox church steeple and Muslim minaret are next to one another in the town square. (40% of Lebanese are Christian.) The residents—with the women in the majority as their men and sons have often been killed in sectarian fighting in the past—live in relative peace. But due to the dedication of a community TV set they are hearing news of killings between Muslims and Christians elsewhere in the area.
Then shoes disappear from the mosque, chicken blood is found in the church holy water font, and other provocations and supposed provocations cause the two sides to mistrust one another. The director plays Amale, whose cafe is the gathering place for the Muslim and Christian women. She has to break up fights between the men of the two sides. Among other things, this cancels her budding possible romance with a worker in her cafe who is of the other sect.
Finally the women enlist the aid of the mayor’s wife, and arrange to bring in a troupe of Ukrainian dancers to distract the men’s rivalries. This provides fun for all for awhile but doesn’t solve the problem. In the meantime one of the young men who helps take the town’s products to market (since the bridge is out) is accidentally killed due to fighting between Muslims and Christians elsewhere.
The women (Labaki plays up the role the women have to play to try to control the senseless killing) then get together to prepare treats and snacks laced with hashish for a party at which they arrange for the Ukrainian girls to do a belly dance. While the men are partying, the women dig up the village’s emergency stash of rifles and ammunition and destroy it. And for a final strong message to the men, some of the Christian women dress up like Muslim women to get their point across to family members—including the mayor’s wife who had previously acted as a sort of oracle for the village thru her “channeling” of the Virgin Mary. (The entire film has elements of Grecian drama, such as the opening “chorus” of females in black parading to the cemetery with photos of their fallen men.)
The interesting “Making Of…” bonus feature had no narration, just quick shots of the many aspects of making the film. It was shot with the RED video camera and the director doesn’t concern herself much with lighting since the videos seem forgiving of that area being lacking. I wasn’t able to access the English or French audio tracks, and in fact had a major struggle getting the English subtitles to appear. Instead of the English audio track the director’s commentary track is served up—interesting as it is after first seeing the film. The theatrical trailer for this film was off the point, concentrating on the comedy, when actually this is a very touching, emotional and original film. Highly recommended!
If any recording is essential to the genre, this is it.