Ibrahim: a Fate to Define
Director: Lina Al Abed | 75 min | 2019 | Palestine, Lebanon, Denmark, Qatar
“In the process of defining her father's fate, the filmmaker, of course, questions and discovers her own.”
Vladan Petković, 'Cineuropa'
The director's father, Ibrahim, left their house one day in 1987, and never came back. Director Lin Al Abed was 6 years old. Now, she attempts to uncover his fate.
Ibrahim was a secret agent for the Revolutionary Council (popularly known as the Abu Nidal Group), a Palestinian militant faction that opposed PLO attempts to adopt more peaceful solutions to the conflict with Israel. They grew notorious for intelligence collaborations with Western powers, and were best known for the unbelievable operations carried out around the world, hunting Palestinian leaders and intellectuals who opposed their vision.
Lina grew up in a house where silence was the norm. Her Egyptian mother raised her five children in Damascus, blaming only her misfortune.
This investigative and emotional film draws a character of a man missing – connecting locations, faces, and thoughts – as the director attempts to draw her long-held fears and traumas out of the shadows.
As 'Ibrahim' progresses, the ghostly figure at its centre gradually takes shape as a complex man with fierce convictions — a person the director is told she resembles in many respects.
Although absent, Ibrahim's impact on Lina has remained strong. “Today, I'm aware of how much his absence affected my life and personality,” the director says. “It shaped my vision of family, friendship and love.”
Beyond this search for a lost parent, the director also considers a broader, more fraught question: what is it about Palestine that prompts so many to risk their lives? Over the course of her journey, she finds her answer.
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Ibrahim: A Fate to Define is at once a deeply intimate detective story and an open letter to a father who disappeared when the director was just six years old. Travelling to cities such as Alexandria, Amman, and Berlin, Al Abed retraces her father's footsteps and visits relatives in an e_ ort to unearth long-buried family secrets. Often conversing over tea, knitting, or other domestic signifiers, Al Abed coaxes out a thread of facts and speculation about her father and what may or may not have happened to him.
As Ibrahim progresses, the ghostly figure at its centre gradually takes shape as a complex man with fierce convictions — a person the director is told she resembles in many respects. Beyond this search for a lost parent, Al Abed also considers a broader, more fraught question: what is it about Palestine that prompts so many to risk their lives? Over the course of her journey, which ends at a tiny village cemetery, she finds her answer.