Reviews: Coffee & Allah

A love of Coffee, a love of Allah. Coffee & Allah is a heartfelt, interesting portrayal of a young girl with an innocent and genuine zest for life and the impact she has on everyone whose lives she touches.

C&A is a simple, 14-minute short film following a day in the life of the young and beautiful Abeba Mohammed, recent immigrant to Mount Albert, New Zealand. Originally from Ethiopia, the film observes Abeba’s attempts to locate good coffee, a decent game of badminton and her devotion to Islam The style of the film purposefully simulates the ritualistic mentality of the Muslim faith – repetitive and slowly paced. Incredible detail has been put into each shot; I noticed a focus on close-up shots of coffee, steam and eyes.

I liked this film, despite the fact that, at the time, I found the editing and production value somewhat distracting. It is not the funding that caused the lack of  quality – I just didn’t find the vision of the director very coherent. I’m a big fan of finding your style; your unique way of seeing the world and incorporating that into the techniques you use to shoot, whether it be a compositional thing or something in post-production. Nothing was missing in the visual flow of the film, however some cuts jolted me out of the movie, and I had to really focus to pull myself back in.

However, the shots were done well and the opening scene being completely blurred – with a gradual focus pull to capture the detail of stones – was… interesting. The crane bird-view shots were kind of unique, but still not particularly stylistically coherent. One recurring convention would be the tendency to shoot from above. I like the thematic connection between this shooting style and the religious message within the film: “Allah looking down”.

I think the reason I liked this film was the story, and relationship the girl has with the barrister who sells her coffee each morning. He is undeniably gorgeous and she seems oblivious to his charm. He is entranced by her innocence, and even though they have no communication he is attracted to her vitality of life.

That’s it! That’s why I like this film! The girl, undoubtedly different from the rest of the society she now lives in, has traits which are recognisable in any culture. The Indian family can see it, and the barrister can sense it. She has an undeniable “glow” which naturally draws people to her., but she is oblivious to this. She just lives her life as anyone does; constantly looking for stimulation and new experiences, while staying true to her faith and her culture.

What is it about her that both the barrister and we, the audience find so compelling? We are drawn to her humanity.

– Jacqui Hocking


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