Synopsis by Mark Deming
A family of political and social outcasts buckles under the tyrannical leadership of an embittered father in this metaphoric drama. Abu Shukri (Hussein Yassin Mahajne) is the leader of an Arab family living in a Palestinian encampment in Israel. Abu Shukri rules his wife and three children with an iron fist, leaving little room for reason or compassion. After forcing the family to leave behind their home, possibly due to shame brought on by the behavior of his daughter Gamila (Roba Blal), Abu Shukri drives his wife and children like slaves as they spend their days making charcoal for sale, even forcing his son Shukri (Ahamad Abed El Gani) to leave school so he can join them. While the family is not authorized to live in their new home, and are using stolen wood to make their charcoal, Abu Shukri not only insists that they stay put, but arranges for an illegal water hookup so that they may have running water, even though it will certainly be disconnected. However, Abu Shukri's wife and children slowly begin to rebel against his authority, and Gamila makes plans to run away so she may live a life of her own. The first feature film from director and screenwriter Tawfiq Abu Wael, Atash was screened as part of the "Critics Week" series at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.