By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
No matter your geographic location or the language you speak, every world citizen is familiar with the emotional and social toll that political polarization can take on a community — and a country.
This is the theme of foreign language drama The Insult, screening Friday, March 11-Sunday, March 13 at the Panida Theater.
The film, presented by Global Cinema Cafe, tells the story of two men: Tony George Hanna, a Lebanese Christian and mechanic, and Yasser Salameh, a Palestinian refugee and construction foreman. When these two characters find themselves in an argument that takes a violent turn, a court case ensues. Though that trial, on its surface, is meant only to address the alleged assault, it becomes a lightning rod for the broader political and religious strife felt throughout Lebanon. The characters must address their pasts to face a future that will require empathy, all the while living in a turbulent present.
Featuring dialogue entirely in Arabic, The Insult won Lebanon’s first Oscar nomination in 2018 for Best Foreign Language Film. Kamel El Basha, who plays Salameh, earned Best Actor at the Venice International Film Festival, where the film premiered in 2017.
The Insult has been praised as a powerful exploration of modern Middle Eastern politics, providing its own unique commentary from the familiar confines of a courtroom drama. While hard-hitting and rated R for some violent images and language, the film does find some comfort at its conclusion. As the Boston Globe put it: The Insult “is optimistic enough to leave the door open to hope. But it’s also realistic enough to only leave it ajar.”
Theater capacity is limited to 225 guests per show, with advance tickets recommended, though not required. The Panida strongly encourages all guests to wear a mask, regardless of vaccine status, while attending the show.
The Insult (R) • Friday, March 11, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 12, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 13 2:30 p.m.; doors open 30 minutes before the show; $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and youth. Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave., 208-263-9191. Get tickets at the door or panida.org.
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