Up & Away (2012)

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Set in Kurdistan in 1990, Up And Away (Bekas) is one of many movies that looks at times of trouble through the eyes of children. Those children are two young brothers, the youngest being Zana (Zamand Taha) and the eldest being Dana (Sarwar Fazil). When Superman comes to their local cinema, the two boys are inspired to travel to America to meet up with the hero and bring him back with them to Kurdistan, making their friends jealous and also getting their parents brought back from the dead. Because Superman can do that. He can do anything.

Bekas is a Kurdish word for a person who has lost their family in the war, hence the alternate title. Zana and Dana are Bekas. Thankfully, they are also full of a near-infinite supply of childish naivete and optimism. As they begin their trip to America, and even beforehand, viewers will be rooting for them to overcome the insurmountable odds against them actually reaching America.

Writer-director Karzan Kader handles everything well, helped by two wonderful performances from the young leads. Zamand Taha may shout or speak a bit too loudly for almost every minute that he’s onscreen, but he also smiles a lot more than you’d expect from someone suffering his hardships and he stays on just the right side of cheeky and daring. Sarwar Fazil is, apparently, the more responsible of the two, but as the film unfolds it soon becomes clear that as he spends much of his time being strong for his little brother, he also needs the support that is automatically offered back to him. There are a number of other, memorable, characters onscreen, but everything and everyone revolves around Zana and Dana.

Things are kept light, for the most part, but there are one or two fantastic moments of tension in the last third of the movie. Some people may just roll their eyes and think that they know how things are going to turn out, but I was on (well, getting nearer) the edge of my seat.

Some may feel that the war in Kurdistan is left in the background and ignored for large portions of the movie, but the consequences of the war and the harsh conditions that the boys find themselves in are just parts of their everyday life. They are going on an adventure, it just happens to include a couple of bigger risks than usual. And bigger risks than usual are expected on any adventure, whether it’s wartime or peacetime.

WRITER/DIRECTOR: KARZAN KADER
STARS: ZAMAND TAHA, SARWAR FAZIL, DIYA MARIWAN, SULIMAN KARIM MOHAMAD, RAHIM HUSSEN, ABDULRAHMAN MOHAMAD, SHIRWAN MUHAMAD
RUNTIME: 92 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: SWEDEN/FINLAND/IRAQ

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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