Railroaded into an Israeli prison on a terrorism charge, a young Palestinian woman discovers that she is pregnant just as a group of her fellow inmates launch a revolt against the prison administration.
Contemporary World Cinema
A story of motherhood in the most dire of circumstances, 3000 Nights makes a prison into a metaphor for Palestine under occupation, exploring how the institution shapes the complicated interplay of resilience, empathy, and psychological manipulation.
Mere minutes after young bride Layal (Maisa Abd Elhadi) picks up a young man hitching a ride on a West Bank road, she finds herself handcuffed and arrested. Charged with aiding a Palestinian militant group in an operation against the occupying Israeli army, she is given a long sentence in a high-security penitentiary. Barely has Layal become acquainted with the prison's codes of survival when she discovers she is pregnant, facing the terrifying prospect of having a baby behind bars. But she becomes caught up in a larger struggle when, defying the perverse system of control that the prison administrators deploy to thwart solidarity among women, the prisoners stage an insurgency to defend their basic rights.
A veteran documentary filmmaker making her first fiction film, Mai Masri conducted extensive research with former women prisoners, including many who delivered children while serving a sentence. The all-Palestinian cast delivers compelling performances, notably Raida Adon in the role of Shulamit, an Israeli heroin addict who is abused by the prison warden. But despite the bleak circumstances it portrays, 3000 Nights is not a dark film. Quite the opposite; it is a hopeful and lucid elegy to the resilience of the human spirit in its tireless struggle for dignity.