Writer-director Ahmad Alyaseer and his sister/co-writer Rana Alyaseer put audiences in the middle of an unthinkable situation with Our Male And Females. Father (Kamel El Basha) and Mother (Shafeqa Al-Tal) are dealing with the worst of scenarios, as these loving parents have outlived their child. Following the Islamic rites and traditions necessary, everything is coming together for a proper burial. Well, that is until it is time for Ghusl Mayyit.
The ritual, which must be completed, involves a family member of the same gender washing the deceased. The snag comes because the beloved child was born a male and transitioned to female. Father and Mother seem okay with this and don’t consider it an issue until it prevents Ghusl Mayyit from happening. The first washer, a male, leaves as he is not of the correct gender. The next is a lady who leaves in disgust. The parents are fast approaching their wit’s end and contemplate unthinkable measures.
“…the beloved child was born a male and transitioned to female…it prevents Ghusl Mayyit from happening.”
Our Males And Females is 11 minutes long, and the emotions run high from start to finish. The director makes audiences understand precisely how important this is to the parents, and their frustrations at Ghusl Mayyit stalling out are keenly felt. Kamel El Basha and Shafeqa Al-Tal run the gamut of emotions from grief to anger to desperation. Al-Tal’s ending speech is as perfectly delivered as it is written. The final minute or two or searing in all the right ways.
While the short does a fantastic job of establishing how important the washing is for the parents, a few questions persist. The Alyaseers never address why neither the Father nor Mother can perform Ghusl Mayyit. Maybe it is a given in Jordan or Islam that the grieving parties aren’t the washers, but the film never sets that up. As such, something is lost in translation, so to speak, as the plot never quite gets past this hurdle for anyone outside of the Islamic faith.
Even considering that flaw, Our Males And Females is a splendid watch. The emotions run appropriately high as the parents’ desperation mounts ever so. The lead actors are brilliant, and the ending packs quite a punch.
"…the ending packs quite a punch."