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TIFF Watch: Cohen Media and Focus World Pick Up Doueiri's 'The Attack'

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 27, 2012 at 3:41PM

Cohen Media Group and Focus World are joining forces for the North American 2013 release of Ziad Doueiri's "The Attack," a drama-thriller following an Arab surgeon who uncovers a shocking secret about his late wife, a victim of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The film will be a special presentation at Toronto in September.
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Ziad Doueiri's "The Attack."
Ziad Doueiri's "The Attack."

Cohen Media Group and Focus World are joining forces for the North American 2013 release of Ziad Doueiri's "The Attack," a drama-thriller following an Arab surgeon who uncovers a shocking secret about his late wife, a victim of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The film will be a special presentation at Toronto in September.

"The Attack" is Doueiri's third feature, following his critical successes "West Beirut" (1998) and "Lily Says" (2004), both of which had robust festival runs. The film is adapted from Yasmina Khadra's international bestseller, and stars Ali Suliman in the lead role.

Programmer notes from the TIFF website:

When a suicide bomber strikes at a Tel Aviv café, Dr. Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman), a Palestinian citizen of Israel and a highly respected surgeon, treats the wounded victims of the blast at a nearby hospital — at least those who will let him, as some refuse to be attended to by a Palestinian. Jaafari is not unaccustomed to such affronts, but this dreadful day has a far ruder shock in store. Late that night, Jaafari is called back to the hospital to identify the body of the bomber: his wife.

In an instant, Jaafari’s comfortable life is shattered. Grief-stricken, wracked by guilt and tormented by his own incomprehension, the doctor embarks on a desperate journey to understand his wife’s motivations for her terrible act. Retracing his wife’s recent trip to the occupied West Bank, where she had claimed to be visiting relatives, Jaafari goes in search of the people who recruited her, a voyage fraught with danger and surprises. What begins as an investigation, however, gradually evolves into a painful and revealing self-reckoning, as Jaafari is forced to confront the sum of his own life’s choices and the shaky foundations of his overlapping identities: as a Palestinian, an Israeli citizen, a doctor, and a husband.

Adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by the pseudonymous Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra, the new film from director Ziad Doueiri (West Beirut) is both a psychological thriller and an incisive exploration of one of the most complex political-ideological issues of our time. Lucid, precise and fearless, The Attack foregoes sermonizing, simplification and manipulation to remind us of cinema’s ability to engage with a charged political reality, to undermine the stereotypes that help fuel it and reveal it in its full, tragic, human dimension.

This article is related to: Toronto International Film Festival, Ziad Doueiri, Cohen Media Group, Focus World, Festivals, Festivals, Independents


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.