A Thousand Months review

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Set in a Moroccan mountain village in 1981 during Ramadan, director Faouzi Bensaïdi's impressive debut starts off as a leisurely coming-of-age tale. It concerns Mehdi (Fouad Labied), a seven-year-old boy who's being cared for by his mother (Nezha Rahil) and grandfather (Mohammed Majd) while his father is imprisoned for allegedly inciting a strike. Also on show is a gallery of eccentric characters: a lustful mayor; a seemingly crazed farmer; and a schoolteacher who's competing with a TV engineer to marry the local beauty.

Through telling these diverse stories, A Thousand Months shows how ordinary lives are shaped at a precise historical moment by the forces of religion, politics and economics. Refreshingly, Bensaïdi also encourages viewers to come up with their own interpretation of events. Shooting in widescreen and deep focus, he stringently avoids close-ups and slyly ensures that key events are kept off-screen. It's humane, assured, democratic filmmaking.

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