Does being born in Palestine automatically make a fighter out of you? What is love? Is feeling afraid a flaw? How do I define bravery? What happens if I speak up? What happens if I don’t? How do I become more? What does this say about me? What is a Alam?
These are all questions that I felt were moving through Tamer; the main protagonist in the latest movie by Firas Khoury called “Alam”. Tamer is a high school student in a village in occupied Palestine. He’s like any other teenager who’s concerned about his grades, getting cigarettes, and that new girl who just came into the school named Maysaa’. Additionally, Tamer, just like any other teenager, is lost and burdened by his father’s disapproval of his grades. Tamer’s father doesn’t want him to go through what his uncle went through. His uncle had a mental breakdown after he was arrested and tortured by the Israeli forces and didn’t recover since.
Resistance & Growing Up
On the other hand, Tamer’s new love interest Maysaa’, and his friend Safwat, are hardcore activists who want to fight for their land and their freedom. Safwat decides to replace the “Israeli” flag in the school with the Palestinian flag. He asks Tamer to join his plan, hence the name of the film “Alam” meaning flag, signifying the only act of resistance they can do without getting caught or killed.
Alam will take your hand and walk you through the lives of these teenagers. They are just trying to see the world, experiment, and be part of a community. However, Tamer and his friends face so much on a daily basis just to feel normal. Or to avoid being subjected to the brutalities of the Israeli army. In addition to everything this group of friends goes through, their teachers teach them a different kind of history, an “Israeli” one. They experience the erasure of their truth on a daily basis, and it is only redeemed by their energy and passion for our beloved Palestine.
Alam Means Flag, the Palestinian Flag
We listen to Safwat’s speech in the middle of class about how his grandmother’s home was taken away from her. As a result, we see his heartbreak speaking about the zionist who took over their home, their trees, and their memories. We experience that followed by the teacher’s disdain for Safwat’s act of resistance that he sends him to the principal’s office.
Alam touches upon many important topics. Therefore, we meet Mayssaa’ who wants to experience her womanhood without accepting prejudice. We see that in her loud and strong personality. Therefore, she teaches Tamer a thing or two about standing up for himself. Alam also does not shy away from comedy, music, and a little banter, which brings everything to the screen to make the audience feel as much they can from the story.
Alam is funny, heartbreaking, and despite everything, full of life. Besides, when has a film about growing up ever been a bad idea?