Screening in the Toronto’s International Film Festival’s Contemporary World Cinema program, Annemarie Jacir’s “When I Saw You” is her follow-up to her award-winning debut “Salt of This Sea.”
Set in 1967 Jordan, the film follows an eleven-year old boy and his mother who are displaced to a refugee camp after the occupation of their West Bank village. Indiewire has an exclusive trailer for the film below. But first check out its synopsis as provided by TIFF:
In 1967, Arab states waged a second war against Israel with the objective of liberating Palestine. They were defeated, and the Israeli army deployed into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in these territories fled the military occupation to refugee camps in neighbouring Arab countries, joining the thousands of refugees that had settled in camps more than two decades earlier in 1948.
Free-spirited eleven-year-old Tarek (Mahmoud Asfa) and his mother Ghaydaa (Ruba Blal) have temporarily settled in the Harir camp in Jordan, but in the chaos they have been separated from Tarek’s father Ghassan. Restless and uneasy, Tarek has trouble adjusting to the indignity of destitution and living on humanitarian handouts. Every day, he and his mother anxiously monitor the trucks unloading more and more refugees, longing to be reunited with Ghassan, but to no avail. Only a few miles away from the Harir camp, in the clandestine encampments that border Israel, the atmosphere is radically different, as armed Palestinian freedom fighters are training for battle to reverse the course of historic injustice and reclaim their lands and homes. When Tarek and his mother cross paths with this group of combatants, the boy is emboldened and chooses to stay with them, forcing his mother to follow suit.
Annemarie Jacir’s second feature is a worthy successor to her prize-winning debut Salt of This Sea (2008) as it follows mother and son’s journey from helpless victimhood to the defiant pursuit of their dream. Passionate but devoid of didacticism, When I Saw You is a mature and quietly moving evocation of the very real barriers — walls, fences, checkpoints — surrounding the Arab diaspora, and the life-affirming spirit of those who struggle to break free of them. In Tarek and Ghadyaa’s inspiring, emancipating journey, Jacir has realized the secretly recalcitrant reverie that every Palestinian refugee has dreamed countless times.