AFF ’28: ‘The Falconer’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

In life, there are many ways to approach difficult situations. Sometimes, they are not morally acceptable and certain decisions are made out of desperation. The Falconer is inspired by true events, there are two best friends, Tariq (Rami Zahar), an Omani teenager and Cai (Rupert Fennessey), a privileged Westerner, who conspire to steal animals from the zoo. They plan to sell them on the black market to raise money for Tariq’s sister’s divorce from an abusive marriage. They are forced to wrestle with morally complex choices that reveal the vast distance between their worlds.

What Tariq and Cai go through during this film and the decisions they have to make together, shows the true bond of friendship. It’s inspiring to see how connected these two are and how far they are willing to go for each other. What fascinated me the most is the exploration of the black market through animals. It is never fully shown on screen and it was interesting to see it all play out. Even though Cai and Tariq are the central characters, we also dive into the mistreatment of women by seeing what Tariq’s sister Alia (Noor Al-Huda) has to endure early on in her marriage.

The fact that Alia wanted to keep the physical abuse a secret because divorce is frowned upon is unsettling. No matter the circumstances, women should be able to freely speak about their partner and their reasons for separating. The physical abuse was subtly shown and was effective. The freedom of Alia was important a paralleled birds flying free, specifically the falcon at the end of this film. Its beauty and importance really come together to reinforce how humans and nature tie in together. That there is a balance between both and how restrictions can be harmful.

The Falconer explores different territories and has a well-written story. It shows the strength in connection and how that matters more than cultural differences or social class. The film has recently won Best Narrative Feature at BendFilm Festival and Best Narrative Premiere at Heartland Film Festival. It is refreshing to see this friendship on screen, with such a layered story added to it. Friends do become family; you fight for them, lie for them, and help them in any way you can. Directors Adam Sjoberg & Seanne Winslow slowly build this story to have the audience fully grasp their friendship.

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