Original review featured on the Doha Film Institute website.

Film: Tora Bora
Director: Waled El Awadi
Stars: Saad Al Faraj, Khalid Ameen and Yassin Ahjam
Duration: 102 mins
Year: 2011

“Tora Bora” draws a painful portrait of an elderly Kuwaiti couple, Abou Tareq and Om Tareq, forced to ensure a dangerous adventure in Afghanistan in order to look for their younger son. Ahmad has been brainwashed by the Taliban and decided to join a camp in Tora Bora. Ahmad, who has been praised for his leadership skills is about to be given a suicide mission. At the same time, his older brother Tarek, is trying to save the members of his family by seeking the support of the Pakistani intelligence services. In this vicious circle of uncertainties, every new day looms as a threat.

The film, which previously screened in Cannes, opened the 5th edition of the Gulf Film Festival yesterday in Dubai. Its quality and strength marks a new wave of cinema coming from the Gulf countries. Previously a subject matter usually tackled by Hollywood studios, “Tora Bora” takes a vivid approach to the subject matter by narrating the troubles of those people directly affected by war-torn Afghanistan.

Shot in a documentary style and mostly filmed in Morocco, the wonderful acting of the cast is a highlight. We can’t but be attached to this old couple, hiding in mountains, enduring beatings and sometimes tortured during the grueling search for their son. The film develops certain characters like Nazih, the guide who takes them to Tora Bora and then leaves. We are left guessing his fate, and also wondering about the tapes of the Palestinian journalist living in a UN camp.

“Tora Bora” presents a heart-wrenching portrayal of parenthood and the cruelty of the war in Afghanistan. As Abou Tariq says wearily, after witnessing the horrors of the Taliban regime, “I don’t understand how a Muslim kills a Muslim for no reason”.

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