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Film / Brotherhood Short Film

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Brotherhood is a 2018 short film (25 minutes) from Tunisia, directed by Meryam Joobeur.

The setting is coastal Tunisia. A family—father Mohammad, mother Salha, early-teens son Chaker and youngest son Rayene—are herders with a home in walking distance of the beach. One day Mohammad and Chaker return from being out with the flock, and find eldest son Malek at home. Malek, it seems, left the family some time ago to join ISIS and fight in Syria. The prodigal son has returned, along with a pregnant 14-year-old wife named Reem.

While his mother and brothers greet Malek with open arms, Mohammad can't forgive. Malek makes tentative gestures at reconciliation but Mohammad rejects them. He seems particularly put out by the presence of Reem, who wears the full-body niqab. Eventually Mohammad makes a terrible decision.



  • Aspect Ratio: Shot in the old-fashioned 4:3 "Academy" ratio.
  • Blade-of-Grass Cut: Some closeups of the flowers and tall grass of the beach are used for transitions.
  • Child by Rape: As Reem confesses at the end, the baby isn't Malek's. She was a sex slave to some ISIS fighters, and he rescued her as he was fleeing Syria himself.
  • Downer Ending: Mohammad realizes his misjudgment of his son too late, after having called the cops (as an ISIS fighter Malik is subject to arrest). He dashes back home just as Malik is being taken away.
  • Hypocrite: When Mohammad gets all self-righteous about Malek coming home with a 14-year-old pregnant bride, Salha points out that she was only fifteen when they got married.
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: Malek is a repentant one, having come back home after leaving to fight for ISIS. Mohammad can't forgive him.
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  • My God, What Have I Done?: Mohammad goes through this after being told that Malek didn't impregnate Reem, and in fact rescued her from a life of sex slavery.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Malek has fully repented from joining ISIS, making his brothers swear that they won't repeat his mistake—but he doesn't tell his father that and Mohammed clearly still regards his son as a dangerous jihadist. He also tells his parents that he's the father of Reem's baby, thinking that it will make them more willing to help Reem, but the sight of his son coming home with a knocked-up, niqab-clad 14-year-old girl only further angers Mohammed.
  • Say My Name: Ends with the sirens going away and Mohammed screaming his son's name repeatedly.
  • Sex Slave: Reem confesses that she was forced to "marry" multiple ISIS fighters, but Malek wasn't one of them.