x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, a Thousand Times)

This lovingly made documentary offers a look at Beirut and the altering of the family unit in contemporary times.

Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, a Thousand Times)

Director: Mahmoud Kaabour

Starring: Mahmoud Kaabour and Fatima el Ghoul


Kaabour takes a page out of Michael Moore's book and uses his family tree to tell the story of a changing city and place. It's not Moore's look at Flint, Michigan, and the death of the car industry, but Beirut and the break-up of the family unit.

At the heart of the story is a seemingly lost soul, Teta Fatima, whose husband died two decades earlier. Her children and grandchildren have left their once-bustling home and scattered around the globe, and she is left with only memories, keepsakes and a wish that life could be what it once was. From such melancholia comes a touching and heartwarming film about globalisation, family and love.

Kaabour's first film, Being Osama, was based on interviews, in the aftermath of September 11, with Canadian citizens called Osama. But with Teta, from a far less sensationalist starting point, the UAE-based Lebanese director creates a more elegant film - and one that has been feted with numerous awards at film festivals. Linking past and present with music, Kaabour gives the action tiny crescendos - his grandmother's reaction to his girlfriend is terrific- all the while painting a portrait of a changing world that stands still for no one.

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