Asmahan Bkerat (director)
Concrete Land is an intimate look at the lives of a nomadic Bedouin family in their struggle to hold on to traditional life under the pressures of urbanization. Their only wish as a family is to stay together with their loyal yet eccentric pet sheep Badrya firmly by their side.
The lives we meet are funny, gentle and complex with eccentric characters that include Badria, the family’s pet sheep. Raised as a Bedouin his entire life, Awad is sweet and loving to his family. As the main breadwinner for the family, he is its backbone. Awad works night and day on his truck. Barely making ends meet. Awad’s eldest daughter is Eman. She attends school where she is consistently one of the best students in her class. But her heritage doesn’t go unnoticed. She looks different. At school kids bully her. She is soon turning 13. Inside a Bedouin tent she has no privacy. As she experiments with makeup, her family firmly disagrees with her methods. “All I want is to be a normal girl. Just like the other girls” she says to her Mom.
Awad’s mother, Hakima, is a strong woman presence at the home. She speaks her mind. Keeps herself busy at home and loves her pet sheep (Badrya). With a pink necklace Badrya is the most spoiled member of the family. Hakima spoils her with Oreo snacks and Fanta as Badrya purrs in delight when petted and taken on walks. Abu Awad, Awad’s father, at 80 years old he has lived his whole life as a nomad. He loves his life with all its troubles. The city life does not tempt him even though he sings old folk songs about the allure of the city, deep inside he is a nomad who is not willing to change his ways. But soon his world and his family’s are challenged. The fast-growing neighborhood has recently become a popular hub for new high class housing developments. The family’s quiet life is turned upside down. The tension between the new neighbors and the Najar family grows worse by the day. Abu Yasser specifically can’t handle the situation anymore. The plastic bags. The smell of sheep. The burning fire every night. He can’t bare it anymore. He files a formal complaint with the local government against the family’s living situation. Awad and Hakima decide to confront Their neighbour. Hakima is optimistic they can convince him to keep their livestock. Their livelihood. But she quickly realizes he won’t change his mind.
As moving day approaches, Awad has to make a decision, of either moving with his kids to an apartment building and abandoning the traditional life his father wants or if he move to continue to be with his parents. Living the Bedouin life he was born to live. The family accepts their fate, they have no choice but to move. Awad and Hakima decide to move to a land nearby. As nighttime settles Awad burns the last remaining pieces of his old life. He starts a fire to burn what remains of the chicken coop. With his youngest son watching on (Hamoudeh), Awad’s life contemplations come to a heed. As the wood continues to burn. Awad’s spirit is broken.
Asmahan Bkerat is a Palestinian-Jordanian Documentary filmmaker based in Amman. Her love for cinema has led her to work in various roles on film sets of different scale, before setting on the path of her documentary film career. Bkerat has worked on international promos for the UEFA, as well as the upcoming German documentary feature Waterproof (2019). She has also worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as Disney’s Aladdin (2019) and Sky One’s Strike Back. Bkerat’s first short documentary Badrya won the Jury Prize for Best MiniDoc at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. She is currently working on her first feature-length documentary Concrete Land, as well having two short documentaries in post. She is an alumnus of the Royal Film Commission, The Scottish Documentary Institute, The American Film Showcase, and IDFA . Asmahan also works as a freelance journalist, and advocate for marginalized communities in Jordan, as well as research regarding refugees issues in adapting to their new living.