NEIGHBOURS by Mano Khalil saw its German premiere at the 55th Hof International Film Festival (IHF) in 2021, and is now in cinemas. Thursday, 13 October 2022 is the big day. In a touching coming-of-age story, the film recounts a deep caesura in the life of a young Syrian boy growing up in an area controlled by the Assad regime. A world of torture, propaganda and kidnappings is depicted through the sometimes naive, sometimes touching gaze of a young child.
Little Sero grows up in a Syrian border village in the early 1980s. He plays pranks with his classmates and dreams of having his own TV so he can finally watch cartoons like the city kids. When a new teacher arrives one day, his world changes abruptly. The teacher aims to turn the Kurdish children into staunch pan-Arab comrades. He bans the Kurdish language with his stick, orders the worship of Assad, and preaches hatred of the Jews, the Zionist arch-enemies. But in fact, Sero’s beloved neighbours are a Jewish family.
The film was inspired by the director’s own childhood experiences and takes the touching narrative all the way to the present-day Syrian tragedy.