Exodus - part of the Cheltenham International Film Festival
Cheltenham International Film Festival

Exodus - part of the Cheltenham International Film Festival

This screening forms part of Cheltenham International Film Festival, which marks its 5th anniversary in 2023. The festival will screen new films from around the world, plus film classics and is adding television, and new live events to its programme, along with guest celebrities.

An unexpected friendship forms when a jaded people smuggler reluctantly takes an 12-year-old Syrian refugee under his wing.

The subject of asylum seekers is an emotive one.  To make it the central theme of your first feature is a bold and courageous move from director Abbe Hassan.  12-year-old Amal (Jwan Alqatami) is fleeing the brutal oppression of the Syrian regime and wants to travel to her family in Sweden.  Currently she is trapped in Turkey.  A chance encounter with people smuggler Sam (Ashraf Barhom) provides her with someone who is willing to take her to her relatives.  And so begins a most unusual odyssey across Europe as these two people from different sides of the immigration issue form a tender bond while dealing with their own inner journeys. For Amal, this is a frightening trip into the unknown, for Sam, it offers a chance of redemption.

As powerful as Sally El Hosanini’s recent feature The Swimmer yet with a friendship at the centre which evokes the relationship of Luc Bresson’s Leon.

Jwan Algatami swiftly slots herself into that category of scene-stealing children (and animals) that it’s so dangerous to work with. Thankfully, the chemistry between the two actors works wonderfully Cineuropa.


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