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Thirst

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Global Lens 2006
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Comprehensive list of all titles in the Global Lens collection.

Global Lens 2006
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Thirst (Atash) a film by Tawfik Abu Wael

Israel/Palestine, 2004 (110 minutes)

Synopsis
Ten years earlier, fleeing a scandal involving his older daughter Gamila, Abu Shukri, a middle-aged Palestinian man, moved his wife and children out of town. Now they're squatters at an abandoned Israeli military outpost sheltered in a dusty, arid valley. There the family scratches out a living by illegally cutting down wood from a nearby forest and burning it to make charcoal.

It's a hardscrabble existence—isolated and lonely, without running water or electricity. The son, Shukri, tries to attend school in town, but the charcoal fires need almost constant supervision, and his father tells him that his responsibilities to his family are more important than an education. When he disobeys his father one day by running off to school, the enraged father acts out by destroying the family's water tank, where they stored the water they hauled in from a distant pond. His wife complains, but he tells her that they'll build a pipeline to bring in water from over the hill.

When a man from town comes out to bargain for charcoal he tries to persuade Abu Shukri to move back, saying that ten years have passed since the scandal, and that people don't gossip about it anymore. They think now that his daughter Gamila was molested, he explains, and they no longer blame her. But Abu Shukri refuses.

The father and son finish the pipeline, and for the first time the family has easy access to water. The mother and children play together in the spray, enjoying their good fortune. Later, Gamila looks through her small chest of souvenirs and mementos. Among them is a bottle of the perfume that she used to wear for her lover; she is almost 30 now, she says, and she has kept it all this time. For her, despite the price she and her family have paid, her affair still holds some positive memories. She lets her younger sister, Halima, try the perfume out.

The father and Shukri go to the forest to collect wood. Shukri finds an old, broken radio and he begs his father to let him take it home with them. In the distance, they hear an engine and the father panics, thinking an army patrol will find them and arrest them. But the sound turns out to be a helicopter, and they're safely hidden from its sight by the trees.

One day the water stops—the pipe has been tampered with. The mother thinks it must have been Israeli soldiers or settlers. The father vows to rebuild it, and says that from now on, he and Shukri will take turns keeping watch over it day and night, sitting up in a shack where the pipe comes over the hill. To defend themselves during their shifts, Abu Shukri takes out a gun he had hidden away.

One morning Shukri sets off to school on the family's donkey. He returns on foot: a group of kids attacked him and stole the animal. He blames his sister, yelling at her that she's still causing them shame. The donkey comes back on its own a day later, with “The Bitch's Brother” spray-painted on its side.

The feast of Aid is coming up, and the mother asks Abu Shukri to be kind to the children—to buy them some new clothes to celebrate, to let Shukri continue school, to think about moving back into town. The father goes off to sell their charcoal and, while he's away, the mother opens his private room to get a battery for Shukri's newly repaired radio and lets the children poke around. When the father returns, they're playing music and dancing. He breaks the radio, but then gives them the presents he's brought anyway. He takes Gamila a white dress—one that looks like a dress he got her when she was 17, before her affair made them have to leave their town. At first she refuses to try it on, but eventually she gives in.

When the charcoal fire rages out of control, Gamila takes advantage of the confusion to run away. While the rest of the family is out looking for her, her father discovers that she's saved reminders of her lover in her chest. Gamila wanders alone through the countryside and collapses as she walks along a deserted road. Her father discovers her and picks her up in his arms. As he carries her back to the family, Gamila thinks he's finally forgiven her, but when they get back, he locks her away in an old storeroom.

Shukri asks his father to let Gamila go, and when the father refuses, Shukri takes a sledgehammer to the lock. His father tells him to stop, but Shukri doesn't listen, and so the father hits him with a log, knocking him out. When the boy comes to, the family is eating dinner, and the father tells him to go keep watch on the pipeline. That night, while alone on the hill, Shukri hears someone banging on the pipe. He goes to investigate and discovers that his father is attacking the pipe. Shukri hits him with a heavy wrench, killing him.

In the morning, his mother and sisters discover Shukri passed out by the charcoal fire. They put him to bed, but after he wakes up, he goes outdoors dressed in his dead father's cap and sweater. He looks around at the three women, who hope that, now the repressive father is gone and the younger Shukri is head of the family. things have finally changed and they can leave this way of life behind. But Shukri goes straight to work feeding the charcoal fire, so the family is there to stay.

About the Director
Tawfik Abu Wael was born in the Palestinian town of Um El-Fahim in Israel, in 1976. He graduated from Tel Aviv University, where he studied film directing, and worked in the film archive from 1996 to 1998. He taught drama at the Hassan Arafe School in Jaffa from 1997 to 1999. His previous works include the shorts Bread (1997), Hashish and the Moon (1997), and Diary of a Male Whore (2000), and the documentary Waiting for Sallah El-Din (2001). Thirst is his first feature film, it won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2004 Cannes International Film Festival.

Principal Cast

 

Abu Shukri (the father)
Shukri (the son)
Amal (the mother)
Gamila (the older daughter)
Halima (the younger daughter)

Hussein Yassin Mahjane
Ahamad Abed el Gani
Amal Bweerat
Roba Blal
Jamila Abu Hussein

Crew

 

Director
Assistant Director
Producer
Associate Producer
Screenwriter
Cinematographer
Editor
Production Designer
Sound

Music

Tawfik Abu Wael
S habtaï Yitzhak
Avi Kleinberger
Baher Agbariya
Tawfik Abu Wael
Assaf Sudry
Galit Shaked-Shaul
Boaz Katzenelson
Ronen Nagel
Oded Ruskin
Wissam M. Gibran

 
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