In Between @ The Ross

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The In Between is a film about three Palestinian Israeli women who navigate the oppressive and tumultuous waters of a patriarchal culture in predominantly Jewish Israel. In their navigation, each woman offers support to the other even in the knowledge that her support could have dire consequences. Written and directed by Maysaloun Hamoud, the In Between is a strong filmic pulse for the issues addressed by women across lines of race and ethnicity in today’s socio-cultural political climate.

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Hamoud takes a hard line in his story, being sure to tap into the interior lives of each woman. Laila, played by Mouna Hawa, is a lawyer, who is no stranger to a party. She drinks and smokes and lets her thick curly hair run wild. Salma, played by Sana Jammelieh, adorns tattoos; she loves to deejay and to bartend. Then Nour, played by Shaden Kanboura, arrives at their apartment dressed in a hajib, ready to continue her studies in computer science. Laila and Salma baffle and intrigue her at the same time. She is the character walking across the bridge between her Muslim traditions and the free-style of her roommates. To the consternation of her fiancé, Wissam, played by Henry Andrawes, Nour finds herself caught between her promise to marry Wissam and her desire to stay with these two bold and brash women and practice her independence. The results of her decision are devastating but the bond between the women releases her to wholeness.

There is more, however. Salma reveals to her parents that she is a lesbian. They are livid and question how this could have happened to the family. Salma has to negotiate her love for family, her independence, and her sexual preference. Laila finds out, much to her disappointment, that her lover, Ziad, played by Mahmoud Shalaby, is more conservative in his beliefs about women than she had anticipated.

In Between is well cast, and each actress brings to her character a verisimilitude that strikes an honest chord with her character’s dilemma. Hamoud also is careful to depict a wave of parental emotion from disquietude to embarrassment to love and acceptance.

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What Hamoud manages to bring out in his film is that female independence is complicated by myriad factors. It does not come as easy as one would expect. You either take it and accept the consequences or abandon it in lost hope. Even the decisions we make to ensure independence do not mean a life of euphoria and dances in a field of wildflowers; there can be honest misgivings, confusion, and ambivalence. What he gives each woman, though, is the gift of each other that does not waver as she walks in between.


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The In Between plays through March 15 at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

Also playing through March 15 at the Ross is Fantastic Woman, Sebastian Lelio film about a woman who struggles to safeguard her chosen life after the death of her lover.


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