Trapped in a hair salon while chaos ensues outside, the characters of Arab and Tarzan Nasser’s tensely-written Dégradé are confronted by the worsening socio-economic conditions of Palestine: frequent brownouts, lack of security, armed conflict, and ideological extremism. The Nasser twins use their diverse range of female characters – all differing in terms of devoutness, personality, and in some cases cultural background – to weave together a flowing, stimulating dialogue on the political and social climate in Palestine.
The set-up is straightforward. Several women are trapped in a hair salon while Hamas soldiers fight against a local gangster, Ahmed (played by the co-director, Tarzan Nasser), who is in a crumbling relationship with Wedad (Maisa Abd Elhadi), an assistant at the salon. As the battle intensifies, those trapped share their own personal lives, while examining the greater political discourse.
Politically balanced and surprisingly moderate, Dégradé is more anti-Hamas than anti-Israel, a move likely to avoid alienating Western viewers. While Dégradé could have worked as a more polemical film, the Nassers are betting on the fact that its moderate stance will resonate with audiences. But its adherence to realism and its unflinching portrayal of a depressed Gaza gives the State of Palestine a much needed exposure.
At a breezy eighty-four minutes, Dégradé is an informed and engrossing drama.
Dégradé screens at TIFF on:
Monday, September 14 at 7:45 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
Wednesday, September 16 at 3:15 p.m. @ AGO Jackman Hall
Language: Arabic, Russian
Runtime: 84 minutes
For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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