Haifa International Film Festival 2021: Let It Be Morning

Let It Be Morning – Eihab Salame, Alex Bakri, Lina Faor, Eran Kolirin, Sobhi Hosary (L to R)/Photo: Ziv Amar

Let It Be Morning, directed by Eran Kolirin, held its Israeli premiere at the Haifa International Film Festival on Thursday, September 23, 2021, before a full house, with the director, producers, lead actor Alex Bakri, and many members of the film’s cast and crew in attendance. Intelligent, sensitive and full of humor, with strong performances from the entire ensemble cast, Let It Be Morning is based on the eponymous novel by Sayed Kashua.  The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 74th Cannes Film Festival in July, at that time, the film’s Palestinian actors did not attend the screening, as a political statement. Although some cast members were not able to attend Thursday’s screening for personal reasons, it was exciting to experience the film in the presence of several actors, including young Maruan Hamdan (Adam), Eihab Salame (Abed), Lina Faor (Naima), Sobhi Hosary (Amin), and Alex Bakri (Sami), who flew in from Germany to attend the Haifa premiere. Following the screening, Eran Kolirin invited the cast and crew to join him onstage, and spoke movingly of the experience of working with them, calling the making of the film “a meeting place of thoughts”.

The film follows Sami (Bakri), whose life, at least from a distance, looks like a contemporary success story. He works in hi-tech and lives in Jerusalem with his beautiful wife Mira (Juna Sulieman) and young son Adam. The village where he grew up has long since been left far behind, and he hasn’t any interest in keeping in touch with old friends. Back in the village to attend his brother’s wedding, Sami is mostly eager to get back home. Yet, as it turns out, that is exactly what he cannot do.

Let It Be Morning/Photo: Shai Goldman

As he and Mira drive home after the wedding, they are stopped at a road block and informed by soldiers that the only road out of the village is temporarily closed due to a military operation. Stranded in the village by this lockdown, the circumstances confront Sami with the contradictions of his life and his inner struggles, as he spends time with his parents, brother, wife, and the old friends he has left behind. Through the experiences of Sami and the people in the village, the film reflects the social and political currents, hierarchies, and dilemmas within the Israeli Palestinian community, with Israeli-Palestinian tensions ever present. Let It Be Morning shines with the outstanding performances of the ensemble cast, as Shai Goldman captured the human and natural landscape in all its hues and nuances, and Habib Shehadeh Hanna’s original music reflected the emotional terrain with vibrant beauty.

Update September 26, 2021: Let It Be Morning won the Best Israeli Feature Award  and Best Screeplay at the Haifa International Film Festival 2021, and Eihab Salame won Best Actor.

Director Eran Kolirin with producers, cast, and crew of Let It Be Morning at the Haifa Film Festival/Photo: Ziv Amar

Let It Be Morning

Directed by Eran Kolirin; Screenplay by Eran Kolirin based on the eponymous novel by Sayed Kashua; Cinematography: Shai Goldman; Editing: Arik Lahav-Leibovich and Haim Tabekman; Music: Habib Shehadeh Hanna; Cast: Alex Bakri, Juna Sulieman, Salim Daw; Eihab Salame, Chalifa Natour, Isabelle Ramadan, Samer Basharat, Durid Liddawi,  Yara Jarar, Marwan Hamdan.