Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"The heart of the film is Abdallah El Akal as Suleiman."

Suleiman accompanies his father into the wilderness. He is looking for a particular kind of rock, but Suleiman is more intent on capturing a scorpion, getting it into a matchbox. We're told, eventually, that if the rock is planted their house might grow back. Symbolism abounds.

The checkpoint seperates the overgrown village from their own. This is Gaza, occupied, patrolled, what have you. On a rooftop Suleiman is gambling with his gang, for this, for that, for a gun. There are miscommunications and misunderstandings everywhere, some producing low comedy, others high tension. Directed by Ruben Amar, written by the same with the assistance of Lola Bessis, this is subtle work.

Alon Rotman is the soldier, Vitali Friedland his comrade at the titular outpost. Juggling mobile phone and field radio, trying to do what's right, Rotman delivers well, but the heart of the film is Abdallah El Akal as Suleiman. This is a film about transition, no middle, no end, just incidents, repercussions, and Suleiman is on the edge of adulthood, starting to take responsibility, with all the consequences that entails.

There are plenty of good moments, dust outside the window, the distant sound of a helicopter, good performances and especially from the children. It comes back to a battered fence in the nowhere - a dividing line, desert on each side.

The DAM song Born Here means more when you know what it's called, but there's lots here that doesn't need context. There have been so many films about the conflict that further films have to do something to distinguish themselves. With Checkpoint that distinctiveness is quality, if not originality. It might not be new territory, indeed, it's well travelled, but Checkpoint ticks most of the right boxes.

Reviewed on: 02 Mar 2011
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An 11-year-old Palestinian boy accompanies his father on regular trips to a ruined Gaza village, though he doesn't understand their purpose.
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Director: Ruben Amar

Year: 2010

Runtime: 19 minutes

Country: France


Glasgow 2011

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