By Marianne Khoury & Mustapha Hasnaoui, 2011
Directors Khoury and Hasnaouri confine themselves inside the walls of a Cairo mental institution in their film Zelal, their camera rarely leaving the hard and worn faces of the resident patients. It can be a difficult film to watch as we learn many patients (I want to write inmates) have been abandoned by their spouses and families, with some showing signs of possible sanity but no freedom of choice. The direct cinema style displays haunting portraits of people forgotten by the outside world, but also creates a sort of redundant showcase: the ramblings of the insane become almost synonymous. The film should be seen for its unnerving view inside a world that is rarely observed, a world that should be opened up and renovated in its infrastructure and healthcare. But be prepared for possible boredom.
3 out of 5
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