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ArtBeat, Film Reviews, Kidsbeat

Mountain Boy—A Family Film 

The endearing film Mountain Boy is adapted from Dr. Michele Ziolkowski’s children’s book trilogy The Boy Who Knew the Mountains, and brought to the screen by producers Nancy Paton and Meredith Brett. 

A young boy named Suhail, who is on the autism spectrum, lives alone in the mountains, ostracized through a series of events. He is our heroic traveler in this gem of a story. A single solitary pearl left to him by his deceased mother is his only way of finding her family in faraway Abu Dhabi. 

Suhail takes along the trusty village Saluki dog he names Barakah (Blessing) and sets off boldly to places he’s never seen. He meets many instrumental people along the way that help him on his brave and adventurous path. He learns new skills and people become aware of his command of nature and animals as he helps them in their time of need. His family and most importantly his father accept and embrace him with open arms. 

The direction by Zainab Shaheen is beautiful. This is her first full-length feature. The cinematography is exquisite; and the musical score, composed by Suad Bushnaq and performed on ethnic instruments and orchestra, is majestic. 

At the 2024 Seattle Children’s Film Festival Mountain Boy was received with an overwhelmingly positive response and the questions that followed to director Zainab Shaheen from the rapt young audience were right on point. “Oh yes, all the places were real,” she said. “I grew up in the town, Fujairah,” and yes, Naser Al Messabi, the young Emirati actor who plays Suhail, is himself autistic, which made for certain changes in filming so he would feel safe and comfortable. 

My favorite question and answer, however, was if the dog in the movie is a good dog… Indeed, the Saluki dog named Barakah was the best dog ever and will most likely become a big star! Applause! 

A splendid time. Spread the word for this lovely tale of compassion and forgiveness!

Watch the trailer here:

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