Movie Information

David Osit’s documentary on charismatic, devoted Ramallah Mayor Musa Hadid depicts Palestine in a refreshingly sympathetic manner.
Genre: Documentary
Director: David Osit
Starring: Musa Hadid
Rated: NR

Though primarily an inspiring tale of maintaining dignity in the face of overwhelming odds, Mayor is also a pretty decent Christmas movie.

David Osit’s documentary chronicles the second mayoral term of Musa Hadid in Ramallah, Palestine, during which the statesman strives to make his Israeli-occupied city as hospitable as possible. The charismatic man’s efforts include installing a beautiful fountain in front of City Hall, improving waste management and traveling the world to drum up support for Palestinian independence — but also decorating the town square with a giant Christmas tree and attending all sorts of holiday celebrations.

This refreshing depiction of liberal values in a misunderstood region is augmented by numerous gorgeous vistas, and the combination of stunning sights and peace-loving people sends a strong message that Ramallah is worth preserving and that its citizens deserve a life greater than what amounts to that of captives.

Mayor is also one of the first films to illustrate the impact of President Trump’s foreign policy decisions, specifically his decision to recognize Jerusalem — a holy city to both Israel and Palestine — as the Israeli capital and establish a U.S. embassy there.

The shocking news leads to Palestinian protests, and loyal servant that he is, Hadid finds himself dangerously close to his constituents’ clashes with Israeli soldiers, resulting in a pair of harrowing sequences reminiscent of scenes of unrest in U.S. cities this past summer.

But as tense as these moments are, they also excel at building sympathy for a true Palestinian state — and if that’s not enough, there’s also “Jingle Bells” to keep things from getting too morbid.

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA).

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