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BROTHERHOOD (2021, CZECH REPUBLIC) – 7.5/10

 

Italian Francesco Montagner shot a Czech-produced documentary in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had its premiere at the festival in Locarno, Switzerland. And he won one of the awards for one of those observational documentaries that was years in the making. In “Brotherhood”, Montagner gives us an insight into the lives of three brothers, Jabir, Usama and Useir, young men who live with their father Ibrahim somewhere in the hills of Bosnia in a far away village. This family of Islamic fundamentalists breeds sheep, and the three brothers will find themselves in trouble when they sentence him to almost two years in prison because he fought in Syria for the so-called Islamic state.

The old man tells the story of how he went to Syria just to see what was going on, and while one of the sons bitterly points out later in the conversation that the authorities condemned a man neither guilty nor guilty, the youngest son reasons why he went there in the first place. And it is clear to us that old Ibro raised his sons in the Salafist spirit and school is not that important, but that is why the entire Koran must be known by heart. In addition to drumming the Koran by heart, everyday life for the brothers is hard physical work and looking after sheep, and the dynamics between the brothers will change completely when the father ends up in the rest. The oldest of them is not very enthusiastic about the idea of ​​spending his whole life in the mountains looking after sheep and he dreams of starting his own business one day, and before that he would like to go to Germany for a bit of arbait.

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The middle one, on the other hand, seems to have accepted his fate and consciously left school in order to devote himself to shepherding, while the youngest is still a boy and does not and cannot know what to do with life, but he is not very enthusiastic about the life his father intended for him. . “Brotherhood” was one of those films that were several years in the making. And while in the film itself we follow almost three years of their lives, it probably took some time for Montagner to gain the trust of these people. And these observational documentaries have always been fascinating to me precisely because of how the authors gain the trust of the protagonists who behave completely naturally in front of the cameras.

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Fino Montegner here uses the almost untouched nature and its almost soothing silence and beauty almost contrasting with the restless spirits of the brothers who were left alone in those formative years. While watching this film, I wondered if these young men were better off with an extremist father who constantly oppressed them with his views, ideas and nonsense, or if they were better off alone and forced to take care of each other. And while the father was undoubtedly the main, almost exclusive authority for the three brothers until he went to prison, and for the period when he is gone he prepared strict rules for each of them, the question is how much they will stick to it or will they try to go their own way. This sense of duty imposed on them by their father and what they really want and feel is actually the essence of the film, which perfectly portrays the conflict in them between the modernity that pulls them and the tradition that their father instilled in them, the religious fundamentalism that restrains them and some inner freedom that they are attracted to and to which they aspire.

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