Even in the midst of intense political conflicts, people try to get on with their lives. So it is with Mariam and Bassam, a Palestinian couple who met during the relatively peaceful summer of 2000. This wonderfully observant film follows their relationship from courtship to marriage, and beyond. Bassam, a telephone repairman in Cleveland, returns to Palestine to find a “home-made” bride. He quickly meets and marries the young Mariam, but leaves he in Palestine with his family. Soon afterward, a new intifada takes place and violence erupts throughout Palestine. Life in wartime is brilliantly evoked: people talk on cell phones, quarrel and cook dinner while tanks are shelling buildings a few blocks away. After many months, Bassam is able to procure a visa for Maraiam, but she soon discovers that life is exile in the UC is not what she expected. This charming film says a great deal about love, courtship, and the roles of women and men in Palestinian society, while touching on the details of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
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Spellbound follows eight kids on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee. This Oscar-nominated entry documents the intense experience of the National Spelling Bee as seen through the eyes of eight young spellers, with viewers glimpsing the kids’ private lives as they train for and compete in the ultimate cerebral showdown.