Mustafa (Ali Suliman) lives in the West Bank while his wife and children live in Israel. In order to see them, he must slowly make his way through a very intimidating border check. It is the only path through the wall that separates Mustafa’s home from his family’s: a distance of 200 metres. It is a constant reminder, during the events that follow, of Mustafa’s paradoxical situation; the distance he must travel is at once miniscule and terrifyingly far.

Writer-director Ameen Nayfeh’s feature debut shares a lot in common with Yann Demange’s ’71. Both films begin by telling a human story that, purely by the nature of its tense and militant setting, transforms its narrative into a thriller, while never losing sight of its realistic tone. However, unlike ’71, Nayfeh’s film is underpinned with a shocking sense of injustice. Caught in such a tense situation it is easy to forget that Mustafa is not a soldier or action hero. Instead, he is a father caught in a situation beyond his control. In this setting his ability to fight, lie and manipulate are not assets but necessities. Being able to weather this storm and remain true to himself are what make him a hero.

Ali Suliman is an incredible screen presence. Beneath his calm demeanour are hidden depths of emotion (frustration, panic, rage and love), which Suliman expertly ekes out as he carries the film forward. Meanwhile, Nayef balances the changing genre styles perfectly so they work solely to service the story.

200 Meters is a thriller which makes the smallest interactions fraught with tension. Yet, what makes it impressive is how everything relates to the bigger picture. The story may be small but it’s reflected in a much bigger one, which asks Mustafa to risk so much to achieve very little.



CAST: Ali Suliman, Lana Zreik, Mahmoud Abu, Anna Unterberger, Motaz Malhees

DIRECTOR: Ameen Nayfeh

WRITER: Ameen Nayfeh

PLOT: When Mustafa’s son is rushed to hospital and his travel permits expire he must resort to desperate means to reach his family. Along with a group of strangers, he agrees to the terrifying ordeal of being smuggled over the border.