Sri Chinmoy once said, “You hate someone whom you really wish to love, but whom you cannot love. Perhaps he himself prevents you. That is a disguised form of love.”
The same idea is present in Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani’s Oscar-nominated picture “Ajami.” Separated in chapters, this critically-acclaimed film presents several interconnecting stories — all set in the multi-cultural city of Jaffa, which is ravaged by increasingly high unemployment rates and crime.
Crime is only the back-drop to “Ajami,” the main problem is religious intolerance.
Mafia killings and drug wars are only gears in the machine that is hatred. This “machine” does not have a set-course and the residents only hate each-other because they feel as they must.
Besides from the relevancy of the topic, especially in these times, the story of “Ajami” is quite engrossing and the directors, who are Israeli and Palestinian respectively, manage to keep the audience’s interest throughout the entire two-hour running time.
Expanding on the popular “‘Crash’ format,” the plot of “Ajami” follows a plethora of idiosyncratic characters as they live their everyday lives in the troubled city of Jaffe. Some of these include an Israeli cop, a young man forced to sell drugs, an illegal immigrant, and a Muslim drug dealer who is in a love with an Israeli.
Though it sounds difficult to differentiate these characters, their personal motives never deviate and as the film loses its chronological order during the second half, we, as the audience, realize just how closely knit all of these strangers are in the grand scheme of things.
Instead of spreading false hope that hate can be eliminated from the troubled Middle-East, Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani instead make a case against intolerance in order to simply magnify its horrors, and as Americans, we can hope to achieve some understanding of their plight. Just through it’s relevancy, “Ajami” has almost secured its win at the Academy Awards this year.
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