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Ackland Film Forum, ‘Mussolini’s Sister’ (Palestine, 2018)

November 5, 2019 at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

In a documentary with a dash of fiction, we enter the mind of the elderly Hiam, a Palestinian woman from Nazareth. We see her at the hairdresser’s, waxing her upper lip and shuffling her way to bed. The mundanity of everyday life acquires extra layers of meaning because the filmmaker Juna Suleiman—her granddaughter—accompanies many scenes with internal monologues from Hiam. Gradually we gain a picture of her past: her marriage, her family and her wealthy brother, who bears the remarkable first name of Mussolini. Hiam’s life is nearly over. Just a few threads are left to connect this lonely and embittered woman with the outside world: the telephone, the TV, her housekeeper and her 55-year-old son Mbadda. Like Hiam, he’s blunt and sarcastic. The question rises as to when the present becomes history, as fragments of television news gradually transition into old footage of a wedding. Through the protagonist’s oppressively small world, Mussolini’s Sister takes an original and restrained approach to large themes, such as arranged marriage, loneliness, decline and racism.

This film will be presented with introductory remarks from Yaron Shemer, associate professor in the Department of Asian Studies.

Tickets are free with a UNC One Card or $7. Tickets are available at the Varsity Theatre.

The Ackland Film Forum’s Fall 2019 series Recent Films by Arab Women Filmmakers is organized by the UNC Department of Asian Studies, the UNC Global Cinema Studies program in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Ackland Art Museum. The series is presented in connection with the Ackland’s current exhibition She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World .


November 5, 2019
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
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Varsity Theatre
123 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States


Ackland Art Museum
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