The Narrow Frame of Midnight
Writer/director Tala Hadid’s first feature film depicts a journey across Morocco, Istanbul, Kurdistan and beyond. The film begins with the dual narrative of English-born, half Iraqi, half Moroccan Zacaria (Khalid Abdalla), and orphaned Aicha (Fadwa Boujouane) found in the forests of central Morocco. It is obvious very early that the film is very stylised. In one of the first few scenes we see Aicha in the forest ascending from the ground and playing with the vivid green leaves on the trees.
After Zacaria and Aicha’s chance meeting due to a broken down car, Aicha in the hands of criminals Abbas (Hocine Choutri) and Nadia (Majdouline Idrissi) asks Zacaria to take her with him, fearing her fate if left with these criminals. Zacaria’s journey to rescue his brother from jihadism is briefly halted by Aicha. Knowing his journey would be long and dangerous, Zacaria leaves her with a former lover, Judith (Marie-Josee Croze).
Typically this film would be categorised as world cinema; a French-made film, set in Morocco where the most common spoken languages are French and Arabic, which the film switches between. Culture is a large part of the film, though it does not dictate or define it. The stories of these characters are intertwined so deeply that the actions of one define the future of another. This film is not held down by the categorisation of world cinema, it exists in a space where the characters despite their circumstances are easy to empathise with.
So rarely in a debut feature do directors depict such a meaningful and stylised view of the world as Hadid. This interesting and insightful story reflects similar situations others have to face in today’s war-ridden world. The beauty of the surrounding landscape contrasts the lonely and haunting lives of these characters further cementing their melancholy. The final scene of the film seals the characters’ ambiguous future.
Hannah St Jean
The Narrow Frame of Midnight release date is yet to be announced.
For further information about the BFI London Film Festival visit here.
Read more reviews from the festival here.
Watch the trailer for The Narrow Frame of Midnight here: