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Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Mahmoud al Massad
Directed by Mahmoud al Massad
DVD, color, 88 min.

College - Adult
Middle Eastern Studies, International Relations, Political Science, Islam

Date Entered: 12/17/2009

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

In this “slice of life” production, we see the daily life of Abu Mammar, a former mujahid of the Soviet-Afghan war, who makes his living by recycling cardboard in Zarqa, Jordon. Throughout the film, we see a man struggle to support his two wives and several children while remaining true to his religious ideals and duties as a Moslem. Portrayed sympathetically, we see Abu as he drives around Zarqa in his small truck picking up cardboard with the assistance of one of his sons and two adolescent boys. Interspersed with the scenes of him picking up cardboard we see him and others discuss the proper way to live out the Islamic life – should Moslems go to foreign (that is, non-Moslem countries to work) and the meaning of Jihad, about which Abu is writing a book. This meaning of Jihad overshadows the film as Zarqa, while the second largest city in that country and probably virtually unknown to most Westerners, is the hometown of Ahmad Fadeel who was otherwise known by his nom-de-guerre, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Residents talk about what he was like as a boy and what seemed to cause him to choose the path of Jihad. Judging by the conversations and news broadcasts contained in the film, it was shot in 2005 and the first half of 2006. At the end of the film we see that al-Zarqawi has been killed and Abu Mammar shaves his beard, dons a business suit, and leaves his home to find work in a non-Muslim country.

Sound and picture quality are excellent. All conversations are in Arabic with English subtitles. University or specialist collections in Middle Eastern studies would probably be the most interested in this film.


  • World Cinema Cinematography Award, 2008 Sundance Film Festival