The Mulberry House

IDFA 2013 | Trailer | The Mulberry House

It's Mulberry season in a Sanaa home.

Sara grew up in Yemen to a Yemeni father and a Scottish mother. As a teenager, she became increasingly suffocated by the constraints of her surroundings, and at age 17, finally decided to move to Scotland, where her mother now resides. Her father, however, would only approve under the condition that she would not forsake her Yemeni roots - a promise she made, but could not keep.

 

Ten years later - 2011 - Sara returns to Yemen as a different person, geared up to face the home of her past and reconnect with her long-severed roots.  But against all personal expectations, she returns to find her family and country teetering on the brink of a revolution.

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At the little orchard opposite the Sana’a family home, a lazy cat yawns, unaffected by all that has been happening outside - demonstrations, confrontations, a revolution. Sara’s grandfather passes by, meticulously caring for every tree and bush. This Sana’a home offers refuge from the outside world - the small garden, enclosed by high walls and big metal doors, acts as a barrier to the on goings outside. Behind these walls is the place where Sara and her sister can sit together casually dressed and free from the constraints of social expectations.

 

Sara has returned to Yemen after being away for several years.  The reason for her return is motivated by personal demands – she is eager to confront her family as to why she left. Sara is half Yemeni, half Scottish, but in recent times her cultural leanings have veered more toward the latter.  The social and cultural expectations of her Yemeni family is something she rejected for years, causing a schism between herself and her family. Her family’s failure to understand her position, career and lifestyle has created tension, something she is keen to confront, hence booking a return flight to Yemen. This journey towards resolution, however, comes with unexpected events on both a personal and political level.

 

As the whole country undergoes a similar confrontation, with its identity, nationality, and norms, Sara’s confrontations with her father create a different reality for her in Yemen. As she accidentally lands in the heart of an emerging revolution, she redefines her place in Yemeni society, as well as her relationship with her father and grandfather.

 

The film is a personal story, which begins as a reunion between estranged family members in a calm domestic setting, and develops into an all-engulfing popular uprising. Rather than focusing on events on the street, this film sheds light on the direct impact the revolution had on the lives of one family, and vice-versa.

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