🇸🇪 🇱🇧 Zozo 🇱🇧 🇸🇪
⚠️This review contains mild spoilers ⚠️
Zozo (2005) is a Swedish-Lebanese film on Netflix. 1 hr 45 min. 15 Cert UK. Arabic and Swedish with subtitles.
Imad Creidi as Zozo
Antoinette Turk as Rita
Elias Gergi as Zozo’s grandfather
Carmen Lebbos as Zozo’s mother
Viktor Axelsson as Leo
Charbel Iskandar as Zozo’s father
Yasmine Awad as Zozo’s grandmother
Jad Stephan as Zozo’s brother, Dani
Tatiana Sarkis as Zozo’s sister
Director: Josef Fares
Cinematographer: Aril Wretblad
Writer: Josef Fares
Music: Adam Nordén
“When Lebanon’s Civil War deprives Zozo of his family, he’s left with grief and little means as he escapes to Sweden in search of his grandparents.” (Netflix)
Josef Fares is a film director and video game designer. He is the younger brother of the actor, Fares Fares, who has appeared in some of his brother’s films (but not this one). He was 28 when he made Zozo.
Zozo opens with a warm, idyllic and happy scene of a younger Zozo on the beach in Beirut watching his family enjoying themselves in the sea. Zozo himself is clearly the focus throughout this movie and we follow him from this happy time, through trauma and tribulations to a new life in Sweden.
The first half of the film revolves around his life in Beirut, with a loving family, the devastating loss of them and his trials getting onto a plane to Sweden.
One of the captivating elements is the appearance of the talking chick in the story. This vocal chick becomes part of the fantasy world that young Zozo occasionally retreats into during the first part of the story.
In stark contrast from the cute chick is the very realistic sections of bombings, shootings, news reports on TV and carnage. There is very real threat conveyed in several scenes, especially the one where he is with his older brother, Dani.
There is an mostly sweet interlude prior to his flight to Sweden with the young girl Rita. Not unexpectedly their joint attempt to flee the country ends in failure. Zozo carries Rita in his heart to Sweden (he even makes a play on words joke about her name).
His arrival in Sweden to be welcomed by his adoring (and grieving) grandfather and grandmother is beautifully played. I particularly liked the way his lack of comprehension of much Swedish at Immigration was conveyed. Grandad is a bit of a wild card and certainly has his own methods of dealing with bullies.
Zozo has big demands made upon him to adjust to this new country and culture. His Swedish is competent when he arrives at school. He is bullied and he tries to buy friends. Finally he makes a true friend, a friend who desperately needs a friend of his own.
I found it both shocking and sad that Zozo was offered no external support, no therapy, no real comprehension of the trauma that he has been through. He has flashbacks and also imagines impossible events in his new school.
Great performances all round from a mostly unknown cast. The child actors are all incredible.
The cinematography is simply stunning, clearly the director knew what he wanted and the cinematographer supplied it. The change in colour palette between Lebanon and Sweden works well. The music score is evocative and powerful.
The end of this film, as the start, is a scene by water, in this case a lake in Sweden. Different family members this time, and a Swedish friend but a nice bookend of hope to Zozo’s story.
I unhesitatingly recommend this film. It is not an easy watch at times but it is an important and ultimately uplifting experience. Whilst it is now 15 years old, it still seems hugely relevant.
Zozo was Sweden’s submission to the 78th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film in 2005.
Zozo won 6 awards and received another 3 nominations.
Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (2006) – Children’s Jury Award Certificate of Merit ~ Winner; Adults’ Jury Award Live Action Feature Film or Video ~ Winner Josef Fares
Fajr Film Festival (2006) Awards of Spritual Cinema, Best Screenplay ~ Winner, Josef Fares
Guldbagge (2006) Best Cinematography ~ Winner, Aril Wretblad; Best Achievement for Music ~ Winner, Adam Nordén
Nordic Council’s Film Prize (2006) ~ Winner, Josef Fares and Anna Anthony
For those who are fans of Nordic/Scandi TV shows and films there is a great affiliated Facebook Page:
This online publication also has its own Facebook Page with a wide variety of content:
More Film Reviews:
More Non-Spoiler Reviews:
More TV Reviews:
More Spoiler Reviews: