Award-winning Alhara stirs controversy at home

Published January 19th, 2023 - 12:23 GMT
Al Harra
The alleys a Jordanian production sparks controversy
Al Harra sparks controversy for telling a story.

ALBAWABA - Alhara indulges in the twisted and intertwining tales of a neighborhood in east Amman, a plethora of characters and individual stories that are seemingly separated, but in the small neighborhood nothing remains hidden.

Alhara, Arabic for the Alley, Won the "Works in Progress Post-production Development Award" at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. It also won two awards for films in post-production at Cairo Film Connection of Cairo International Film Festival.

Bassel Ghandour’s script beautifully connects the stories and gives an authentic dramatized experience on living conditions and social interaction in low-income neighborhoods in the Jordanian capital Amman,

The Jordanian production went largely unnoticed at home since its release two years ago. But it caused a stir after it premiered on Netflix earlier this month. The movie drew a public rebuke in some Jordanian circles that saw the crimes, expletive speech and romantic innuendo alien to a society that boasts of its conservative customs and values, although the opposite takes place away from public eye.


Utopia refers to a society or a community in which its members possess near-perfect qualities. The key word is imaginary as there is no utopia on earth and no one is perfect. We live in an imperfect world and it is wrong to say that these actions do not happen anywhere, Jordan included.

Ghandour, the writer and director, incorporated various genres into his movie and it actually worked quite well, proving how strong the script actually is.

This crime thriller dramatic dark comedy hybrid was a treat to watch and be surprised by the twists and turns the film throws at you.

Cinematographer Justin Hamilton works his magic in the intertwining streets of one of Amman’s hills almost as if reflecting the labyrinth of the story onto the streets of the neighborhood.

Each one in the cast embodies the character flawlessly and brings it to life we see Ali, actor Emad Azmi, a typical Jordanian man trying to make a better living by any means necessary.

The infinitely talented Monther Reyahnah playing Abbas the racketeering boss in charge of "Alhara" and is the catalyst to everything that happens in the neighborhood.

And, there is also the amazing performances delivered by Nadera Omran, Maisa Abd Elhadi, and Baraka Rahmani. They played Aseel, Hanadi, and Lana respectively.

Each one of them is the main protagonist of her own story; And as a whole, they all feel as if they were the main character.

Hanadi was reminiscent of Yelena from XXX (2002), in her demeanor we see a woman fighting through a dog-eat-dog world, and through aggression, she overcomes her past trauma and is not defined by it and becomes the right hand of Abbas.

Aseel and Lana both try to navigate their dilemmas and try to outrun the traumatic events each had in their lives and prove that despite the social constraints they face, they overcome the challenges in their own ways.

Alhara is a creative expression of Jordanian stories 

The list of festivals and nominations this movie has had is impressive, including the Locarno film festival and the international film festival Rotterdam. The movie was also sold out at the London film festival.

In conclusion, Alhara is an amazing experience, a thriller filled with twists and turns, a good script and dialogue, great performances and character arcs. The cinematography was also on point.

Thanks to everyone who helped with making this movie and do not let anyone stop you from making more.

Written by Munir Abumuhor

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