Inspired by director-writer Mano Khalil’s own experiences, this dark yet surprisingly humorous gem depicts innocence in absurdly trying times. Six-year-old Sero (Serhed Khalil) finds his life upended by his strict new teacher, who dogmatically preaches nationalism, uses corporal punishment to forbid the Kurdish language, and insists that the children hate Jews — which is odd since Sero only knows his Jewish neighbors to be warm and lovable people. Khalil beautifully captures Sero’s creeping conflict, as his innocent childhood fades with the cruel realities wrought by despotism and radicalisation. Though set in a small Syrian border town in the 1980s, Khalil’s story easily finds parallel in modern-day Syria, and perhaps even elsewhere.
Serhed Khalil, Jay Abdo
Kurdish, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, English