Of Fathers and Sons (2018)

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After his Sundance award-winning documentary Return to Homs, Talal Derki returned to his homeland where he gained the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. His camera focuses mainly on the children, providing an extremely rare insight into what it means to grow up with a father whose only dream is to establish an Islamic Caliphate. Osama (13) and his brother Ayman (12) are in the center of the story. They both love and admire their father and obey his words, but while Osama seems to follow the path of Jihad, Ayman wants to go back to school. The film captures the moment when the children have to let go of their youth and are finally turned into Jihadi fighters. No matter how close the war comes-one thing they have already learned: they must not cry.

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Critic Reviews for Of Fathers and Sons

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (5)

Terki avoids too much moralizing or even authoring, allowing his camera and presence to fade into the background of most scenes.

Nov 23, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

[Derki's poetic narration] serve to frame "Of Fathers and Sons" with the feeling that you're seeing a warped dream of family survival, one in which still-noticeable human bonds can't help but be corroded by isolating hatred and extremist ideology.

Nov 20, 2018 | Full Review…

"Of Fathers and Sons" is ultimately more impressive for its access than it is revealing of drives or beliefs. If Derki's goal was to capture what causes ideology to spread, he and his camera look without seeing.

Nov 15, 2018 | Full Review…

An admirably audacious feat of documentarian access, Of Fathers and Sons is of obvious topical and anthropological interest as a glimpse into the gradual radicalization of young males and the deep community ties which underpin the process.

Jan 4, 2018 | Full Review…

An intrepid, cold sweat-inducing study of Jihadi radicalization in the home from celebrated Syrian docmaker Talal Derki.

Nov 24, 2017 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

Watching boys being immersed in violence and trained to become killers as part of their role as Al Qaeda members.

Dec 31, 2018 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

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