Watching how children grow is an education, something Michael Apted’s The Up Series continues to prove every seven years. Director Kaouther Ben Haria (2013’s Challat of Tunis) follows a nine year-old girl named Zaineb over six years in this appealing documentary, as her life undergoes momentous change. Picking up after the camera after the death of her father, Ben Haria follows Zaineb as her mother reconnects with an old flame who has moved to Quebec.
The camera mainly acts as a bystander as the clues about Zaineb’s destiny begin to mount up.
Ben Hania’s documentary, which picked up top prize in the Carthage festival for Arab and African cinema last month and screens in Dubai this week, charts young Zaineb’s odyssey from Tunis to Canada – from life as a religious schoolgirl in Tunis to a more challenging, cosmopolitan teenager. The story, which came to Ben Hania via a family relationship, is involving as the viewer contemplates the barely-understood scale of what is happening to Zaineb as her world turns on its axis. Certain for further festival berths, this intimate documentary should work best on the small-screen with viewers who have shared Zaneb’s journey.
Ben Hania works the camera herself, and the scale is decidedly personal – despite its titular focus on snow (which young Zaineb claims to hate) the film boasts scant footage from outside the family’s va ... Read Full Review