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Falafel

North American Premiere

France, Lebanon | 83 MINUTES | Arabic |

FALAFEL

Drama, Comedy

Seemingly everything that can go wrong on the way to a party happens to the easygoing young hero of Falafel, on a trip through nighttime Beirut where you can almost smell the falafels frying at neon-lit stands. Chronicling the post-civil war emptiness in Lebanon, director Michel Kammoun shifts from playful clowning to edge-of-violence darkness in the blink of an eye as he follows his young hero through a hot Beirut night, building up a sense of danger and frustration in a kind of Lebanese After Hours. Tou (Elie Mitri) is a cool-looking, warmhearted guy who adores his kid brother and whose main goal that night is to meet a certain Yasmin (Gabrielle Bou Rached) at a party. But when a high-handed driver knocks him down in a parking lot squabble, humiliation pushes him to leave the safe haven of his partying friends and walk on the dark side. Tou's vengeful search for his nemesis alternates with his concerned friends' comic search for Tou, and the outcome remains up in the air until a tender, unexpected ending. In his first feature, Kammoun illustrates how life in Lebanon has yet to normalize, even 16 years after the civil war. Trouble seems to be lying in wait: Tou witnesses a roadside kidnapping, escapes from the police and buys a gun from a hysterical arms dealer. Though shot before the recent Israeli conflict, there is a prescient warning of violence lurking around every corner-along with a great deal of warm Middle Eastern atmosphere.