Film Review: Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim

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In association with Africa in Motion Film Festival

As its title suggests, Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim is indeed about two men, called Ali and Ibrahim, and a goat. Yet, of course, it is about so much more, such as embracing that which others may call your curse, or fighting feelings of despair and suicide. Directed by Sherif El Benari, the film tackles heavy subjects interspersed with sudden moments of almost surreal, laugh-out-loud humour. Such as the inevitable discovery that the ‘Nada’ Ali speaks of at the film’s beginning, and for whom he has bought an enormous pink teddy bear, is not his girlfriend, nor his little sister, but in fact a goat which Ali is in love with.

Ibrahim’s reason for social isolation is far less comical, as he frequently hears excruciating sounds, so loud that they hurt even my ears. In an attempt to stop these sounds from haunting him he tries to record them, often only recording silence – “the most beautiful sound”, in his opinion. After seeing a local healer, the two men meet and decide to travel across Egypt to throw a stone in all three of the surrounding bodies of water, which will supposedly cure them. While they are initially sceptical, the adventure leads them on a path of self-discovery and acceptance, as well as the formation of an unlikely friendship along the way.  

While the story stands on its own, it’s the film’s sounds and scenery which make Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim such an excellent experience. Its colours are warm and dream-like throughout, and the cityscapes of Cairo and Alexandria are beautiful – think small, sandy alleys and roof-terraces looking out over a sprawling city of white stone. Yet these views cannot beat the astonishing landscapes which Ali and Ibrahim encounter on their road-trip. The sun-washed Mediterranean and jagged mountains of an almost burgundy colour prove to be the perfect backgrounds for very aesthetic shots with a Wes Anderson-esque quality to them, albeit less forced and more casual. Yet while the film’s settings of Cairo and the rest of Egypt are fundamental to the cinematic experience of Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim, its story is ultimately a universal one.

[Aike Jansen]

More information on Africa in Motion Film Festival is available here.

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