Tala’vision (shortlisted for an Oscar) is a remarkable and beautifully shot short film from writer/director Murad Abu Eisheh. It tells the story of an eight year old girl named Tala (Aesha Balasem) whose life has been shattered, not by the violence that surrounds her, but by the sudden banning of her only means of escape – her television. It is a devastating story of how terrorists, in taking over a small Middle Eastern town, can change every aspect of one’s daily life.
Tala lives a life of solitude. Her best friend is too sick to come over, and gunfire in the streets prevents her from going outdoors. She’s told that ISIS has forbidden television for the people in her community. But her boredom, coupled with a desire to watch her hero Lionel Messi, prove to be too much of a temptation, and she decides to take matters into her own hands.
Eisheh marvelously ushers us into this world through the eyes of Tala, making brilliant use of both heartbreaking and every-day moments. Watching a neighbor smoke a cigarette across the street. Dangling her legs from a makeshift balcony. Trying to bounce a soccer ball around the house without breaking anything. Struggling to sing herself to sleep as bombs explode in the distance – this last moment is heartbreaking for us, but every-day life for Tala.
The script seems exactly right. Rather than too much dialogue, Eisheh wisely takes his time with his film, leaning on the performances of his talented actors, Ziad Bakri (Tala’s father, Taher), and Khalid Al Tarifi (Tala’s neighbor). Both are fantastic, but Balasem is a stand out. It is a lovely debut performance, in which she simultaneously embodies strength, fear and wonder.
Murad Abu Eisheh has made a brilliant film in Tala’vision. A skillful and confident director, he excels in presenting a story that is both quiet and dramatic. This beautiful and poignant story should not be missed.