TIFF 2020: “The Translator”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

To understand a repressive regime, its constant persecution against freedom of speech and the larger umbrella of freedom itself, one has to live in that environment. It is easy to say, “Oh, I can put myself into the shoes of this person,” but it is not. Not by a long shot.

Sami has managed to escape to Australia. He is about to become a parent himself. But it is work that brings attention to his home country of Syria. When his father was arrested and never returned home, Sami as a little boy could not do much. But when his brother Zaid followed the footsteps of his father and began organizing protests, he was arrested by the police and was taken into an unknown direction. Sami promises to himself that he won’t let his brother die, so he returns to Syria to find him, not realizing that the Assad regime is already aware of his presence in the country and will do anything to capture him dead or alive.

Directed by Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf, the film explores the painful past of a Syrian living in exile, and the price he has to pay if he plans to return. Sami knows about the risks but he secretly crosses the border. And when both his friends die, he thinks that he was able to escape unnoticed. But the problem is, in Syria, everyone knows everything, and what he thought might be possible was not. Even though he was able to reunite with his sister, the man will have to make a quick and courageous decision to do what is right, perhaps not for him, if he wants to make through alive not only for himself but for his loved ones too.

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