Of Fathers and Sons

2018-12-22T16:26:48+00:00Categories: Docs in Review|

Of Fathers and Sons Director:  Talal Derki. Watched on:  Kanopy. Rating:  2/5.  After spending 99 minutes with the radical jihadists and their young male offspring in Talal Derki’s Of Fathers and Sons, it may be time to admit that the last few years of documentaries set in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq have finally reached the point of diminishing returns. How many more films do we need populated by Islamic fundamentalists endlessly muttering “God is great”; how many more films consisting of jittery handheld behind-the-lines footage; how much more time do we need to spend wandering around the foreign policy wreckage of the Middle East? Are there no other subjects worthy of a film festival’s precious allocation of scheduled screening times? Personally, I’d decided that after Sebastian Junger’s and Nick Quested’s comprehensive and engrossing Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, there was really no point in watching another film about either the conflict or the havoc-wreaking terrorists. But Derki’s film promised something a little different, an insider’s look into the indoctrination of terrorists-in-training, specifically the sons of veteran jihadists living a stark existence in a Northern Syria redoubt. Derki fled the area, his former homeland, when Al Qaeda moved in. He convinced Abu Osama, a run-of-the-mill zealot with two sons, to let himself and a cameraman come back to document how jihadism is instilled in the young. Derki tells us in an introductory voice-over that he pretended to be sympathetic to their cause in order to avoid being killed, but after [...]