Making “I Can’t Think Straight”


The director credits her self-described “wicked” sense of


“We went for a humorous approach there, because especially with the

cultural elements and the whole Palestinian/Israeli debate,” she said. “It’s

such a big touchstone, and a touch point for people’s emotions, so we wanted to

see if we could just lighten the view of it a little bit, just say ‘well, this

is how families talk’ but we kind of inject the humor.”

A great deal of the initial dialogue between Tala and Leyla

is of the infectious, flirtatious sort, further sweetening the love story that

centers and grounds the film. Sheth, for her part, said she enjoyed the sort of

screwball humor of the film.

“I loved the little things that Tala and Leyla say

to each other, having to do with politics and self and family. You

know, you throw in that little zing and people really love that part of it.”

Kattan agreed that the use of humor certainly has a serious


“I think Shamim’s themes and her other novels quite explore

political backdrops,” Kattan explained. “It’s again, the family traditions, the politics, the

culture, society, even the spite of them, you can find your voice in your art

and have the strength — inner strength to move forward in your life to make

your own happiness really, regardless of everything else around you. I think

it’s a good contrast to the characters and their development.”

There are many other shared elements between the films, but

it’s important to remember that Straight

was the first, despite the fact that it was released long after Unseen lit up the festival circuit


While the film itself may be a bit rough around the edges,

it represents the first fledgling effort of an emerging filmmaking force. In

their second production, the team would go on to refine and essentially remix

elements in order to breathe life into a truly moving and poetic story — and

earn countless accolades in the process.

Check out Sarif’s website for more information on the films, and read our review of I Can’t Think Straight. Look for an article on the making of of The World Unseen soon.

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