Dir.: Maysaloun Hamoud; Cast: Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammalieh,Shaden Kanboura, Mahmood Shalbi, Ahlam Canaan, Henry Andrawas; Palestine/Israel/France 2016, 102 min.
Maysaloun Hamoud’s portrait of three young, independent Arab women living in Tel Aviv captures the lifestyle of a new generation of Palestinian women, fighting prejudice from the Jewish majority and their own – religious fundamentalist, male dominated – families, regardless of their Muslims or Christian backgrounds.
Laila (Hawa), a successful lawyer; Salma (Jammalieh), a lesbian bartender; and DJ who shares a flat with computer science student Nour (Kanboura) who is the shy one of the trio, avoiding the party-orientated lifestyle of her flatmates. Nour is also the heroine of the story. sharing her life with fiancé Wissam (Andrawes) who works for a Palestine charity in a small town. Wissam takes the high moral ground when talking to Nour or her family, but cannot hide his own insecurity when he encounters Laila and Salma, calling them ‘whores’. He is adamant that Nour moves out of the shared place, finding her alternative accommodation. But Nour rejects this offer and also his wish to bring the wedding date forward. Confronted with female resistance, Wissam loses his cool and rapes his fiancée brutally.
Laila and Salma make sure that Wissam does not get away scott-free. Naturally the wedding is cancelled, but both women have their own, very different problems with their partners. Laila is courted by a Jewish lawyer, but she knows only to well that he is messing her around “still waiting to present a kosher bride for his religious parents”. When she meets Ziad (Shalabi), a liberal Palestinian, the scene seems set for romance. But soon Ziad starts controlling behaviour: So she gives him the boot.
Salma has fallen in love with Dr. Dunya (Canaan), but this all ends in tears with her father promising to incarcerate her, when he discovers her lesbian life. He is running for re-election as mayor: “I can do without people finding out that my daughter is a lesbian”. Salma escapes, but the break with her Christian family is final. Along with these trials and tribulations, the women have to fight off daily discrimination from Jewish citizens, some of them showing their distain for Arabs openly. “We do not bite”, says Laila to a shop assistant, who is not very happy, to serve her and Salma.
IN BETWEEN is a very honest film with its themes of drugs and alcohol, and charged sexual atmosphere – these women are no suffering wallflowers – they pay the price for going against their familes of all denominations. It is a radical new beginning for the region; a growing number of relationships are now developing between unobservant Jews and Palestinians: fighting the good fight against all shades of fundamentalism with love. So despite of some structural problems, IN BETWEEN is one of those films which really deserved to be made, and seen. AS