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The Independent Critic

Mohamed Grayaa, Salha Nasraoui, Malek Mechergui, Chaker Mechergui, Rayaan Mechergui
Meryam Joobeur
25 Mins.

 "Brotherhood" Takes Home Narrative Prize at Indy Shorts Film Fest 

A remarkable, deeply moving cinematic achievement, writer/director Meryam Joobeur's Brotherhood captured the $5,000 prize for Best Narrative Short at the 2019 Indy Shorts International Film Festival and solidified its status as one of the year's top contenders for the upcoming awards season. 

The film centers around Mohamed (Mohamed Grayaa), a hardened shepherd living in rural Tunisia with his wife (Salha (Salha Nasraoui) and two sons. Mohamed is deeply shaken when his son Malek (Malek Mechergui) returns home after a long journey with a mysterious new wife in tow, a return that builds in tension between father and son until finally reaching its breaking point. 

Brotherhood is a mesmerizingly beautiful film, exquisitely acted by its ensemble cast with a naturalness and authenticity that practically radiates genuine emotion and authenticity. At times, the tension in Brotherhood is so intense you can barely keep watching but you dare not turn away for fear of missing something vital. 

Lensing by Vincent Gonneville is simply exquisite, simultaneously filled with tension and wonder and innocence and regret. Gonneville magnificently captures every moment in this layered, emotionally complex film that explores redemption, perception, and the choices we make in ways that seem obvious yet unfold in ways unexpected. 

Grayaa's performance is simply extraordinary here, his hardened nature seemingly built from a difficult life yet that same hardened nature perhaps convicting him of that which he sees surrounding him. Salha Nasraoui is marvelous as the mother who refuses to stop defending her child even when defending her child seems illogical, while Malek, Chaker, and Rayaan Mechergui all perform quite ably. 

Original music by Peter Venne serves as a perfect complement to the film's deep emotional core and fraught tensions, while Anouk Deschenes' editorial work gives the film perfect pacing that is especially evident in its closing moments. 

Brotherhood is definitely one of the top shorts out of the 2019 Indy Shorts Film Fest and has already picked up a slew of other awards along its festival journey. If justice is to be served, it's not nearly done yet. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic