Given the title, I think it’s rather unlikely that this one will make the Kuwaiti cinema screens. When Jafaar, a Palestinian fisherman, finds a live Vietnamese pot bellied pig in his net, one senses trouble from the outset. From this simple premiss, working on a shoestring budget, debuting director Sylvain Estibal serves up a political parable with a complex yet warm satirical bite. The film is determined to debunk Arab-Israeli differences with plenty of in-jokes on both sides. The action is set on the eve of Israel’s voluntary disengagement from Gaza in 2005, although the chronology is deliberately a little vague.
The pig’s arrival complicates life for Jafaar, who is desperate to stay out of trouble. One is never quite sure whether he fears his wife more than the authorities and after his early panic – he has, after all, never seen a pig in the flesh – first attempts to hide it from his wife and then offload it onto a choleric German United Nations official. Subsequently, he is persuaded by his local barber to gain some commercial advantage from this unexpected windfall. He proposes to sell it to Yelena, a young Russian-Jewish farm worker with whom he communicates through a wire fence. She insists that what she needs is not the pig itself but its sperm for pig-breeding purposes.
Cue a series of sperm-related gags, including Miss Piggy pinups and a Palestinian policeman who confiscates Jafaar’s flask and quaffs its contents, taking it to be medication when in fact it is the results of the pig’s pleasuring, with Jafaar’s help, wearing a pair of pink Marigold’s to prevent contamination by the unclean beast. The entire theatre fell about at this point, along with the gag where Jafaar ashamedly tries to persuade a ten year old boy to buy Viagra for the pig to increase its output. The gloves come off when local Islamist militants, learning of Jafaar’s activities, accuse him of siding with the enemy on the grounds that the pigs Yelena is breeding are used for demeaning purposes. They seize Jafaar and the pig, ineffectually disguised as a sheep, who find themselves pencilled in as suicide bombers, both being fitted with dynamite waistcoats. All however ends well and both Jafaar and the pig survive, miraculously.
Both Arab and Israeli sides are relentlessly skewered, which impartiality makes the film gentle and rolling with a keen eye for the absurd, both class and racial disparities being equally lampooned. In Arabic, Hebrew and English with French subtitles. Loved it.