Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for June, 2021

Americanish * A Breath Of Fresh Air Looking At Rom-Coms Through A New Lens

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

The 2021 CAAMFest Audience Award-winning film debut by Iman Zawahry takes place in Jackson Heights, Queens where two sisters and their fresh-off-the-boat cousin try all the conventional ways to earn the love and respect of their mother. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abigail L. comments, “Although still containing classic rom-com clichés, this film introduces diverse cultural and ethnic characters and story arcs to American film audiences. Writer and director Imam Zawahry highlights the strength of feminism and family ties as she explores the ups and downs of women in the work force and romance.” See her full review below.

Americanish
By Abigail Liu, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Americanish is a breath of fresh air as it looks at romantic comedy through a new lens. Although still containing classic rom-com clichés, this film introduces diverse cultural and ethnic characters and story arcs to American film audiences. Writer and director Imam Zawahry highlights the strength of feminism and family ties as she explores the ups and downs of women in the work force and romance.

Set in New York City, the lives of three Pakistani women are thrown into turmoil while they endure career, family, romance and culture clashes. Maryam (Salena Qureshi), a college student who dreams of attending Harvard Medical School, worries about her MCAT score and navigates her crush with her study partner, Shahid (Kapil Talwalkar), who happens to be married. Meanwhile, Maryam’s older sister, Khala (Lillete Dubey), attempts to score a work promotion and ignores the advances of a well-intentioned police officer. Their cousin, Ameera (Shenaz Treasury), moves in with their family from Pakistan in search of a doctor to marry, but her budding friendship with the local store clerk (Godfrey) risks putting a damper on her plans.

This film successfully shows the struggle of balancing cultural traditions with personal ambition through love and marriage, careers and family. When reading the summary of this story, it first seems overused and bland, but it is quite the opposite –  the message conveyed in the film is meaningful and empowering. The acting feels unconvincing at times, but the film’s message makes up for it. Even though there are a lot of Hollywood romantic comedy clichés found in the film, there are moments that are genuinely humorous and funny. My favorite part is the separate, but connected, stories of the three women. As the story progresses, they grow closer as they find themselves relating to one another in their disappointments with romance.

Americanish teaches women of all ages that it is never too late to find love and that being a woman can mean whatever you want it to be, whether that is becoming a successful businesswoman, a doctor or a loving wife. Parents should be aware that this film contains implied sex, references to adult minor language and references to sexism and racism.

I rate Americanish 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. This film can be viewed now at select festivals.

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The Human Factor * Israeli and Palestinian Conflict Negotiations During the Clinton Administration

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

With unprecedented access to the foremost American negotiators, THE HUMAN FACTOR is the behind-the-scenes story from the last 25 years, of how the United States came within reach of pulling off the impossible – securing peace between Israel and its neighbors. Today, the need to learn from past mistakes couldn’t be more urgent.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ashleigh C. comments, “The Human Factor documentary is very informative and will be loved by those that are curious about the negotiators of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict during the Clinton Administration, and their efforts to bring compromise and peace. The one-on-one interview setting makes it easier to understand and grasp basic questions of this foreign political situation.” See her full review below.

The Human Factor
By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 17

The Human Factor documentary is very informative and will be loved by those that are curious about the negotiators of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict during the Clinton Administration, and their efforts to bring compromise and peace. The one-on-one interview setting makes it easier to understand and grasp basic questions of this foreign political situation. And while the film does provide some context in the beginning, you may want to do a little research on the conflict before watching. 

I had an unexpectedly emotional reaction to this documentary. Director Dror Moreh cleverly sets a specific tone that grabs the viewer, and then reveals history in a brilliant way. My favorite parts are with the negotiators and their dialogue about their personal firsthand experience being a part of this crucial stage in history. While it is a foreign conflict, we are shown it from the United States’ perspective.

I love the music throughout this film, thanks to composer Eugene Levitas. While a lot of scenes were usually serious due to the political dialogue, some scenes added unusually whimsical music to set a certain mood.

The message of this film is really important to understand, especially in the current political climate of the United States. “People just like to demonize the other side. All that is out is the human side, the animosity for each other. And unless (we) are planning on accepting the other side, there is zero hope for a solution.” The challenge of any political conflict is building bridges and crushing barriers, and this conflict is no exception. The Human Factor does contain violence, gore, and scenes that depict warfare.

I give The Human Factor 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13 to 18 as well as adults. You can watch The Human Factor in theatres nationwide on May 7, 2021.

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