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Links to our other threads on the films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne: La Promesse, Rosetta, The Son (Le Fils), L'enfant, Lorna's Silence; The Kid with a Bike; Two Days, One NightThe Unknown Girl.

The upcoming film from the Dardennes has a title: Ahmed. From this Screen Daily article about Wild Bunch acquiring it for distribution:

Quote

The Dardennes are also gearing up to shoot their eleventh joint feature Ahmed, a contemporary tale about a Belgian teenager who plots to kill his teacher after embracing an extremist interpretation of the Koran.

“It’s the tale of the radicalisation of a young boy in Belgium,” says Maraval. “A strong aspect of the script is the way it opens a debate around the interpretation of the Koran by a young kid under influence.”

The synopsis at the Wild Bunch website is similar: "Belgium, today, Ahmed, a young fanatic barely out of childhood, plans to kill his teacher in the name of his religion. How can love of life win out over his desire to put someone to death?"

As I wrote on Twitter, apart from the allusions to Christian imagery throughout their oeuvre, and the treatment of North African religious ceremony/beliefs in La Promesse, this could be the Dardennes' most direct examination of religion. Not sure when it'll be released yet--filming begins in Belgium this summer (2018)--but I do hope to visit and meet the Dardennes at some point in the filmmaking process, to observe how they do their "two-headed filmmaker" thing.

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A post-Cannes update: The English title is Young Ahmed, the Dardennes won Best Director at Cannes (a bit of a surprise upset for most of the film critics), and I was able to ask a question to the Dardennes in the Cannes press conference, which you can view here (my question begins at 20:30):

Here's my review of the film: https://cinemayward.com/review/young-ahmed/

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4 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

A post-Cannes update: The English title is Young Ahmed, the Dardennes won Best Director at Cannes (a bit of a surprise upset for most of the film critics), and I was able to ask a question to the Dardennes in the Cannes press conference, which you can view here (my question begins at 20:30):

Here's my review of the film: https://cinemayward.com/review/young-ahmed/

Very cool! 


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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2 hours ago, Overstreet said:

This is great news. I'm so curious to hear others' responses to this film, as it's definitely a bit of an outlier for the Dardennes. The film also releases on DVD/Blu-ray in North America on June 16. Unfortunately, the film hasn't released *at all* in the UK, which means I'm going to have to somehow ship the Blu-ray (of course I'm buying this film on physical media!) to a mailing address in the US, then onward to my home address in Scotland.

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On 5/20/2020 at 8:11 AM, Joel Mayward said:

I'm going to have to somehow ship the Blu-ray (of course I'm buying this film on physical media!) to a mailing address in the US, then onward to my home address in Scotland.

I pre-ordered it from Amazon, which I was hoping to avoid. But for all its corporate evils, Amazon remains one of the best ways to get stuff to the coast of Scotland quickly and relatively cheaply. I imagine the Dardennes would not approve (they were producers for Ken Loach's Sorry We Missed You).

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Due to the teetering tower of papers and essays I have to grade this week, I won't be writing a proper review soon. But here are my first impressions on Letterboxd.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Jeffrey, my one critique of Young Ahmed meshes with yours, though I didn't have the same difficulty with the actor playing Ahmed.  Still, in what looks to be my first festival-free year since 2013, this is my favorite film of 2020: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/05/young-ahmed-on-the-knifes-edge-of-violent-fundamentalism/

And Joel, I finally watched the press conference that you linked to several months ago.  Well worth the watch.  Very, very cool that you got to pose such a good question to your heroes, even if they punted on parts 2 & 3 of your query.  (Alas, I've not had the same good fortune with Werner Herzog, as my upraised hand got overlooked at TIFF.)


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Great review, Andrew, and really interesting observation about the cows on the farm, as well as the role of governmental institutions which strive to help Ahmed and his family (as well as Ines). I'm curious, from a psychology perspective, what did you think of the role and portrayal various counselors and therapists in the film? You mentioned them a bit in the review, but I'm curious if they're seen as effective (both in terms of Ahmed's rehabilitation, and within the film's narrative).

And I think the critique made about the film's similarities to other Dardennes' films is valid, yet there are some really fascinating differences and "firsts" too. For instance, none of the Dardennes' "regulars" are in Young Ahmed, like Olivier Gourmet, Jeremie Renier, and Fabrizio Rongione; it's the first and only Dardenne brothers film Gourmet hasn't played any role.

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2 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

Great review, Andrew, and really interesting observation about the cows on the farm, as well as the role of governmental institutions which strive to help Ahmed and his family (as well as Ines). I'm curious, from a psychology perspective, what did you think of the role and portrayal various counselors and therapists in the film? You mentioned them a bit in the review, but I'm curious if they're seen as effective (both in terms of Ahmed's rehabilitation, and within the film's narrative).

Thank you, Joel - that means a lot coming from you, given your expertise on the Dardennes.  The portrayal of the therapeutic work at the detention center felt authentic to me, and "worked" within the entire narrative of Young Ahmed.  The psychologist and lead social worker seemed to be genuinely invested in helping Ahmed, and the overall milieu they offer youngsters would be the envy of their counterparts in the US, no doubt.  In the film's narrative, I don't think they were the agents of change for Ahmed, but I think that's more a function of Ahmed's secretiveness and ulterior motives, and not a failure on their part.  And in attempting to "deradicalize" troubled kids, they have a serious uphill climb ahead of them.  What was your take on this aspect of Young Ahmed?  As a former youth pastor, this would seem to be in your wheelhouse, too.


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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When we can talk spoilers, I want to hear others' takes on the ending. The last moment was in no way a surprise... or even interesting to me. It was just sort of like "Here endeth the lesson."


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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17 hours ago, Overstreet said:

When we can talk spoilers, I want to hear others' takes on the ending. The last moment was in no way a surprise... or even interesting to me. It was just sort of like "Here endeth the lesson."

Keeping it vague for now, I wasn't surprised; but in going back and watching it a second time, I found it quite moving, and just right, given

 

all of the earlier talk and visual representation of touch/don't touch and purity/impurity.

Edited by Andrew

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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When I can someday figure out how to use the "spoiler" feature again, I can write more about what I think about the ending in detail. I had a similar reaction to Andrew—the first time, a moment somewhat startled me but the final scene didn't really surprise me. But the second time, I found that entire final sequence to be far more complex, and more open to different interpretations about what will happen after the film cuts to black.

6 hours ago, Overstreet said:

As far as "regulars," no — but I think the soccer coach from Two Days One Night is in this; I recognized him at the Muslim community meeting.

The actress who plays Inès, Myriem Akheddiou, has become a regular of sorts—she was in small roles in The Kid with a Bike, Two Days, One Night, and The Unknown Girl. And I believe she's the romantic partner of Fabrizio Rongione. She's really great in this film too, and won a Magritte Award (the Belgian version of the Oscars) for Best Supporting Actress.

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9 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

When I can someday figure out how to use the "spoiler" feature again, I can write more about what I think about the ending in detail.

I keep the Spoiler instructions pinned in the About You forum: http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?/topic/26270-spoiler-tags/

Quote

{highlight=black} to open and {/highlight} to close, with square brackets.

 

That shows how to do the black band over text. The spoiler box is {spoiler} and {/spoiler} with the {} symbols replaced by square brackets. 

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Despite seeing the ending coming far enough in advance, I thought it totally worked both for ending the film with the strongest moment of grace (not dissimilar from The Son or Two Days, One Night) and for the way it completely knocks down Ahmed's religious extremism while exalting the charity and compassion of his teacher's religious beliefs. I'll probably write a review myself once I've had time to think about it a bit more.


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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