Thursday, November 21, 2013
Flying Blind 
Flying Blind ]2012] [IMDb] [FW.pl]* (directed by Katarzyna Klimkiewicz [IMDb] [FW.pl]* written by Caroline Harrington, Bruce McLeod and Naomi Wallace) is a film written and financed in the U.K., though directed by a young Polish director hired to do the job. It played recently at the 25th Polish Film Festival in America held in Chicago between Nov 8-24, 2013.
The film is about a British middle-aged aerospace engineer and lecturer at a university in Bristol, England in her 40s named Frankie (played by Helen McCrory) who enters into a relationship with a significantly younger Algerian who introduced himself to her as Kalil (played by Najib Oudghiri) an engineering student presumably at the university where she lectures.
How'd they meet? Well, one afternoon after a lecture of hers as she was walking toward her car parked in a parking garage, he just came over to her, smiling, and introduced himself. She didn't necessarily recognize him from the lecture she had just given, but then engineering classes are often quite large and students of Middle-Eastern/Arabic descent are not uncommon. They chatted. Smiled. At some quite normal point, she excused herself, telling him that she had to get to her car. He quite graciously let her continue to her car and that was that.
A few days later, he met into her again, this time on the street. Again, he was disarmingly friendly, smiled. She joked "You're not stalking me, are you?" And smiled back, "Of course not." They chatted some. She asked him if he'd bought an engineering book that she recommended to him when they ran into each other the first time. He answered that no didn't buy it because he didn't have the money. She offered then to lend him hers. And she offered to take him to her flat just down the street to lend him the copy.
After coming to her place, her going up to get him the book, returning with it, he asked her if she'd like to get something to eat. They've become somewhat friends, she says, yes.
And so she enters into this rather interesting relationship with a significantly younger, but good looking, hair kinda wild ..., engineering student from Algeria, who she seemed kinda flattered / kinda proud of herself seemed interested in her.
The rest of the movie follows. And yes, the obvious question that the (target western) audience is asked throughout the whole film is: Was this a good decision?
Why would it not be a good decision? Well, she's an aerospace engineer. She works for the defense industry, on drones, we're informed. He's Algerian (North African/Muslim). Though he does not, she discovers that a lot (but by no means all) of his friends wear Middle Eastern clothes. They all, of course, speak Arabic, often in front of her. She, of course, does not understand a word that they are saying. She also finds that he's lied to her. He ISN'T, presently, an engineering student at the university where she lectures. When she confronts him about this, he tells her that "he used to be." When he leaves his laptop lying about in her flat, she can't resist and checks what he's been reading on the internet ... and it seems to be her worst nightmare: He seems to be reading _nothing but_ really militant-looking Islamic websites ... lots of Arabic characters, lots of Kalishnikovs and M-16s portrayed, hostages blindfolded, so forth. She asks him about that. He has an answer: "I come from Algeria. The only people who honestly report there are Muslims." At some point the British authorities start to ask questions of her (after all, she's an aerospace engineer): WHY ARE YOU HANGING OUT WITH THIS GUY? Arguably, HER OWN ACTIONS put him on a list of "persons of interest" to the British Authorities.
It goes on. Who is he? Who is he, indeed? ... Go see the film ;-)
POSTSCRIPT: The film screening was attended by the nice smiling, Polish-born director where she explained to us viewers afterwards that she was offered the job to direct this film after showing a short of hers called Hanoi-Warsaw  [IMDb] [FW.pl]* at a film festival in England, and she felt that she was picked for the job because she could partly identify with both of the main characters: (1) Frankie, the woman trying to make her way, _independently_, in a male dominated field where all kinds of questions were constantly being asked about her judgement, and (2) Kalil because she too spent some years in England, elsewhere, at times illegally, where she too had to be really careful with who to be honest with. Anyway, it was a great story and I do wish her and the other film-makers of her generation from Poland / Central Europe all the best. This is your time folks to make your mark. This is your time!
* Foreign language webpages are most easily translated using Google's Chrome Browser.
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