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Susan Youssef, 2011
Palestine/Netherlands/USA/UAE | 78 minutes
Director Susan Yousef in person!
Young lovers Qays (Kais Nashif) and Layla (Maisa Abd Elhadi) are university students in the West Bank who hail from Khan Yunis in Gaza. He is pursuing a degree in literature and she in engineering, but they are forced to return home before completing their courses. In the more religious and traditional environment of Khan Yunis, their love story can continue only by marrying. Yet Qays, who is a construction worker living in a refugee camp, is too poor to convince Layla’s father that he can provide for his beloved daughter. As the couple struggles to be together, Qays paints verses from the classical poem Majnun Layla all over Khan Yunis, a rebellious act that angers Layla’s father and the local self-appointed moral police. Lyrical and passionate, Habibi depicts a reality where personal happiness must be weighed against society’s opinions, and a choice sometimes made between one’s people and one’s heart.