Waleed dreams of a writing career while suffering from depression. He develops a relationship with his neighbour, a small time crook. While the scheme turns into an unexpected friendship, it leads them into a journey of dark encounters.
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The latest film submitted for International Feature for Palestine is Mediterranean Fever. The film is about Waleel who is married and has two kids. He’s a writer, but he’s never ever published a book. He’s been going to therapy for the past two years. And the reason is because he suffers from deep depression. Most normal things are difficult when you have this illness. The therapist asks Waleel if he’s been able to exercise. He responds back by saying, “the problem is I need to get out of bed before I can go for a walk.” Besides driving his kids to school, Waleel spends most of his time at home. He cleans the apartment, he does laundry, he watches tv and naps on the coach. He finds having kids to be a burden and if he attends a party he can’t wait for it to end so that he can go back to sleep. He loves his wife and family but he’s struggling to survive.
All of this changes though when a new neighbour, Jalal, moves in right next door to Waleel. Jalal is rude and disrepectful. He blasts music when Waleel is trying to write and he knocks on the door at midnight looking for a flashlight. But there’s something about Jalal that sparks Waleel’s attention.
Is Jalal the person who can help Waleel with his depression?
Maha Haj has created a special film that deals head on with depression. The key to the film’s success is her ability to create this magical bond between the two main characters. The chemistry they share together is something truly special. The film balances perfectly between comedic moments to balance out the dark subject matter. And the screenplay is awards worthy.
Mediterranean fever is a genetic virus that causes recurrent episodes of fever that are typically accompanied by pain in the abdomen, chest or joints. This virus can unfortunately be passed from generation to generation. We see glimpses of Waleel’s father suffering from depression. And we see glimpses of Waleel’s son beginning to suffer from this disease as well. People who have never dealt with depression think it’s just being sad or being in a bad mood. But depression is falling into a state of greyness and numbness. Waleel expresses to Jalal that it’s like waking up and feeling that there’s no point to anything. Depression is living in a body that fights to survive, with a mind that tries to die. And we just hope that Waleel, and everyone else suffering from this illness, will find the help to one day regain their life back.