Through the ordinary story of four teenagers looking for a pool, Yassmina Karajah’s Rupture brings insight into the lives of Arab-Syrian war refugees settled in Surrey, Canada in an assured short drama. Jordanian-Palestinean filmmaker Karajah collaborated closely with the cast of young war survivors and first-time actors to develop their characters and the story, and the film’s colorful, roving cinematography lingers on both their expressive performances and the pleasures of a summer’s day. It now screens in its online premiere.
Some refugees in Canada go through training that reduces their accents and makes their English more “passable”, a process which struck Karajah as a potential film subject. It was during her research that she met Asaad Al Arid, a freckled young man with aspirations to become an actor, who told her a story about wandering downtown with his brother hunting for a swimming pool. Karajah knew she had found her protagonist, and began to build out the movie around him, contacting nearly every Syrian family in Surrey before finding the three other teens who would play his friends. All compelling performers in their own right, they worked with Karajah to build their characters and incorporate personal experiences into the narrative, while being careful to introduce enough fiction that they could feel comfortable onscreen.
“I gave them a scenario and asked them to react to it and then to react to each other. I was so impressed – not only in terms of their creative abilities and how they handled the scenes – but it was also clear that each one had a story and something compelling to say. There’s something really inspiring about that quest for self-determination in the midst of social and political displacement.” YASSMINA KARAJAH
Born in Amman, Jordan, Yassmina Karajah now splits her time between there and Canada, where she studied filmmaking at the University of British Columbia and law at the University of Bristol. Her previous short Light (2014) was selected at the Toronto, Dubai and Melbourne international film festivals. Rupture premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, screened at New Directors/New Films, and won the Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance, where Karajah also became the first recipient of the Russo Brothers Fellowship Award. Among her upcoming projects is her first feature, inspired by Rupture and currently in development with the support of the Russo brothers’ AGBO Films.
- Credits for
- Asaad Al Arid, Salam Almarzouq, Hussein Al Ahmad & Wazira Al Ahmad
- written by
- Yassmina Karajah
- produced by
- David Findlay
- Leen Issa & Virginie Nolin
- Blake Davey
- production design
- Sophie Jarvis
- Cayne Mckenzie
- edited by
- Yassmina Karajah & Blake Davey