“Curfew” follows the stressful routine of an extended family when Israeli authorities declare an open-ended curfew in the Gaza community. Timely first feature from young Palestinian helmer Rashid Masharawi, born and raised in a refugee camp in Gaza, communicates the cumulative pressures of being hemmed in without real options. Naturalistic pic, obviously made with modest means, has the ring of truth but is in for a struggle finding playdates beyond fests and educational settings.
Views of corrugated rooftops in a dusty locality give way to scenes of youngsters playing soccer, including the spunky and resourceful Radar. When curfew is declared, people rush indoors. Troops are represented mostly as loudspeaker voices with a few soldiers thrown in, but evenhanded approach concentrates almost exclusively on one tedious, anxiety-provoking day in the life of Radar’s family.
The family shares a fairly spacious, if sparsely furnished household. Patriarch is in poor health. One son is studying in Germany, and the arrival of a letter from abroad is a momentous occasion. Another son is compliant — mellowed by his wife and daughter. Bachelor Akram is a simmering hothead with an expression of permanent indignation.
Women hold the household together, nervously rationing food in case the curfew decree lasts for days. Fleet-footed Radar is dispatched for perishables; his mother weighs the risks of stepping into her own backyard to hang laundry. In the course of one night, a baby is born, houses are searched, tempers are provoked and the uneasy status quo is maintained.
Pic shows practical details of outsmarting confinement, such as communication from shuttered window to shuttered window or over low walls. Side effects, such as labored breathing after being gassed, are alluded to through dialogue. Pic ends much as it began, reinforcing the established cycle of survival.