Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Q&A with director Mano Khalil & actor Jay Abdo on 1/12.
In Mano Khalil’s autobiographical Neighbours, six-year-old Sero (expressive newcomer Serhed Khalil) and his family live in a Kurdish community near the Syrian/Turkish border in the early 1980s. Sero is extremely fond of his neighbors, the last Jewish family in a village where Jews and Kurds once coexisted peacefully but where rising tensions have caused all the other Jews to flee. When he begins his first year of Arabic school, Sero is inundated with the fiery nationalism of a new teacher who demands that the Arabic language replace Kurdish in the home and propagates anti-Semitism to his impressionable charges. Amidst other tumultuous developments, Sero struggles to resist the dangerous ideology of his forceful instructor, while his fellow students embrace these ideas to the detriment of the warmhearted Jews they’ve lived alongside all their lives. Khalil mines childhood experiences with a welcome sense of humor, while drawing tragic parallels with the plight of contemporary Syria.