Three entries to the Giffoni Film Festival, which opens in the small town by the same name near Sorrento on July 14, tell the stories of embattled young people who face a variety of challenges, including poverty, terrorism, and war.
Such is the case of A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, by French director Thierry Binisti. Premiering at Giffoni on July 22, it tells the story of star-crossed lovers Tal, a 17-year-old Israeli girl, and Naim, a 20-year-old Palestinian boy living in Gaza, who must overcome the 100 kilometers of bombs, road blocks, and bloodshed that separate them. Set in the 19th century, French-Belgian co-production Zarafa tells the story of Maki, a 10-year-old boy who, aided by a piratess named Bouboulina and a hot-air balloon pilot named Malaterre, ventures from Sudan to Paris in his quest to save Zarafa, a young giraffe who was given as a gift to the King of France, and return her to her mother in Africa. Based on a true story, Zarafa screens on July 16. On a more somber note, French-Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch's film Horses of God, screening on July 17, takes on the Casablanca terrorist attacks of May 16, 2003. Set in that city's Sidi Moumen shantytown, it tells the story of Yachine, a 10-year-old girl who lives with her struggling mother, her depressed father, and three brothers, one of whom, 13-year-old Hamid, is a petty criminal who ends up in prison, where he goes over to the Islamic fundamentalist cause. When he is released, Hamid convinces Yachine and her friends to join his group of Islamic militants, and one day tells them that they have been chosen for martyrdom. (ANSAMed).