Smitten! is a fanciful romp and more – a fable, a caper, and four romances rolled into one. It begins when Tyler Hutton, a novice New York fashion exec, flies to Milan, Italy, in hopes of closing a deal and impressing his boss, his estranged father. Instead, Tyler is kidnapped and driven into the mountains by three bumbling Mafioso – Aldo, Bambo, & Cetto – to be held for ransom. They manage to get themselves lost, though, and spend the night in an abandoned cottage in a village that is under a spell. Upon awakening, each benighted man falls in love with the first living soul to meet his eyes…Smitten!
In postwar Algiers, Amal and Samir are a middle-aged couple hoping to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary. Drifting through their day, they eventually find themselves at a restaurant. Here, they confront their differences and disillusionment, threaded with the unsettled atmosphere of postwar society. Outside, their teenaged son Fahim and his friends, Feriel and Reda, spend their day on the streets of Algiers. They too reveal ideological differences among them, their banter soon leading to the revelation of hidden wounds left by the war that shaped their current world. While the scenes shared between Amal and Samir echo adult fatigue, Fahim and his gang wear their youth as if a target on their backs. Sofia Djama’s debut feature employs this multi-layered narrative to craft a stirring drama that illuminates the generational states of unrest left in the wake of the Algerian Civil War.
37TH ANNUAL MINNEAPOLIS ST. PAUL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. APRIL 12-28, 2018.
MSPIFF is Minnesota’s largest film event and one of the longest running film festivals in the country. Each year, the festival presents more than 250+ bold, exciting, and moving works from new and veteran filmmakers from around the globe.
Hatem (Amr Saad), a moderate young preacher in Cairo, becomes a television celebrity with millions of fans. This makes him a perfect tool for government manipulation on a mass scale, as his eloquence and wit are employed by key figures in the Egyptian state to influence policy and religious practice. However, when the cameras are off, bloody struggles for state power rage, and as Hatem tries to stay out of political and sectarian disputes, his personal and professional life become increasingly consumed by the complex tapestry of Egyptian politics. Based on a novel by the same name, Mawlana by Ibrahim Issa, the story offers a critique of power, corruption, and fundamentalism in Egyptian society. In addition, this dark and convincing film highlights the importance of media in the production of political and religious agendas.