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With: Abu Osama, Ayman Osama, Osama Osama
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Talal Derki
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Arabic, with English subtitles
Running Time: 99
Date: 11/16/2018

Of Fathers and Sons (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Strain of Terrorism

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For the documentary Of Fathers and Sons, filmmaker Talal Derki heads to his homeland of Syria and poses as a war photographer, sympathetic to the radical jihadist cause. He befriends a family, father Abu Osama and his four sons, and follows their progress over two years. The movie begins shockingly, with Abu boasting for the camera that he named all his sons after the architects of the 9/11 attacks in America. (He's thrilled that one of his sons was actually born on September 11.) He holds meetings about forming his own caliphate and goes searching for abandoned landmines, boasting that he knows all about how to disarm them. Derki's camera eventually settles in on two of the boys, the older Osama and the younger Ayman. They love their father, but when they are sent to a military-style training camp, Ayman begins to question, and decides he'd rather go to school. The movie is effective, but one wonders if anything was really accomplished. Do we Westerners really have a better understanding of radical jihadists, or are we simply staring at this family in shock and shaking our heads in dismay? (Not to mention the somewhat questionable journalistic methods that allowed Derki to get this footage.) Nonetheless, Of Fathers and Sons received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

Kino Lorber released the film on DVD (no Blu-ray). Picture and sound quality is fine; there are two audio mixes, 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo. English subtitles are optional. The only extra is a trailer.

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