Street Brothers


         Mid film, my classmate, Ali, paused, looked over at me and said, “It’s amazing how old they are at such a young age”, and it really is. The street children in the film Ali Zaoua are fending for themselves, forced to look after one another, and yet, the vibrancy of their lives is apparent many times throughout the film. Multiple times I found myself wondering whether or not I was sympathetic for these youth because of their seemingly bipolar way of loving each other. It quite possibly could be that coming from a family of girls I am simply not used to the rough ways of young boys, but I do believe that these boys’ specific social context has structured them to live and act the way they do. Filmmaker Nabil Ayouch has portrayed the three central characters, Omar, Kwita, and Boubker in a way that suggests they are uncertain how to love one another because they have never been recipients of love. The boy’s raw characterization allows viewers to grasp the magnitude of hardship that comes with forced independence.

            One scene in particular shows how this forced independence often results in forced dependence among the three friends. When Kwita returns to Dib’s gang, Omar is surrounded by gang-members trying to render the same fame and attention as his friend Ali once did. When Kwita arrives on the property Omar struggles with this decision of attention vs. loyalty. Omar watches Kwita from the sidelines, nestled in with the gang, as Kwita insists they are going to bury Ali. Even though Omar seems pleased with his moments of fame, Kwita speaks for all three of them when he says to Dib that they are not staying. Perhaps this has happened enough before that Kwita can assume Omar’s loyalty or perhaps Kwita himself can relate to the desire to appear greater than the rest in his obedience to Dib. Even when Kwita shouts “life” Omar is seen looking to the others before responding as if he doesn’t want to appear weak in his friendship with Kwita. With one nod of the head both boys follow Kwita down the stairs and off Dib’s property. As much as Omar wishes he could lead a group as both Ali and Kwita have had a chance to, he depends on Kwita for his well-being. Once they are back to their familiar ground, Omar puts his arm around Kwita. In this moment, their love for one another is reaffirmed. I believe that it is because of their forced adulthood that this transition can happen multiple times in the film where their love turns into fighting but only for so long before it is mended. The reason for this is the boy’s dependence despite independence. All of them are caught in this, even the gang-kids, and without their understanding, even Dib. Kwita, Omar and Boubker paint a beautiful image of loyalty despite immense hardship.


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