LAFF 2017: ‘Dalya’s Other Country’ ✮✮✮✮✮

“They began to kidnap girls,” Dalya’s mother, Rudayna, explains before the title card. “The war left me no choice. I had to come here with my daughter.”  Leaving her husband behind in Turkey, Rudayna comes with Dalya and an older son. We learn little about the son; the focus is first on Dalya and second on her mother. This is about women of two generations adapting to life in Los Angeles.

“Dalya’s Other Country” is about another side of Los Angeles. Fleeing the violence of Aleppo, Syria, Dalya ends up enrolled in a Catholic school in 2013. She is the only Muslim but we see her transform from a shy misfit to a gregarious, giggling girl who remains Muslim in her identity.

Her mother has other issues to deal with: Her husband, currently living in Turkey, has, without warning, taken another wife, something that she finds unacceptable. The father does come to visit, but the father and mother can’t repair the damage done to their marriage.  Both Dalya and her mother Rudayna adjust to the Los Angeles culture and their changing views of women in culture.

As a postscript, at the end of the movie we’re told that Dalya attended both Glendale Community College and Pasadena Community College. While “Dalya’s Other Country” premiered at LAFF, it also screened on PBS and is currently available to view online.

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