Canadian journalist Jay Bahadur (Evan Peters) arrives in Somalia as an opportunist and leaves an advocate. Writer/director Bryan Buckley treats Bahadur’s 2008-09 odyssey as an elucidating examination of kinship more than a biopic.
Love Beats Rhymes is more of a showcase for star Azealia Banks than director RZA, but his influence is still felt in this formulaic hip-hop romance, which exudes the generosity of an experienced artist putting a young musician in the best possible light. Banks’s first film isn’t a self-congratulatory star vehicle.
Holy Air isn’t entirely satirical, but the bone-dry wit is breathtaking. Pilgrims to Nazareth seek the lightness of spiritual transcendence, and Shady Srour contrasts them with residents weighed down by everyday catastrophes and paralyzing fears.
Mariam Shaar is a problem-solver – she has to be. After starting the catering company Soufra (it translates as something like “a bountiful dining table”) to provide work for refugee women, Shaar finds that the food industry offers more than sustenance.
The Orwellian image of totalitarianism is bleak and urban, with thought police lurking around every corner. Sunny rural Cuba seems a world away, but in Carlos Lechuga’s delicate drama, ideological rigor has seeped into everyday life.