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Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki was most recently at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 with The Return to Homs, which won the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize. Once again, Derki returns to his homeland, upping the ante of danger to new heights by posing as a pro-jihadist photojournalist making a documentary on the rise of the caliphate. The result is an unfettered vérité portrait of al-Nusra general Abu Osama—a radical Islamist leader and loving father—and the gaggle of young boys who idolize him. Chief among these boys is the leader’s son Osama, named after Dad’s personal hero, Osama bin Laden.
In this remote village in northern Syria, a landscape of bombed-out homes, abandoned tanks, and minefields becomes a playground for young boys taught to stone any girls who dare to show their faces in public. Schools have been decimated. Education consists of reciting the Koran and attending military training camp. Bedtime stories regale the glory of martyrdom. With unparalleled intimacy, Of Fathers and Sons captures that chilling moment when childhood dies and jihadism is born.
SECTION Award Winners
RUN TIME 99 min