“Torn” opens in San Francisco Oct 25 directed by Jeremiah Birnbaum , president of the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking, and written by Michael Richter, chief privacy controller at Facebook.
Facebook has a contentious relationship with users concerning privacy controls yet privacy is an overt issue of the film.
The Pakistani-American family Maryam (Mahnoor Baloch) and Ali Munsif (Faran Tahir ) and teenage son Walter (Sagar Parekh) live in a suburban neighborhood. Lea (Dendrie Taylor) is a single mom raising her teenage son Eddie (Jordan Parrott ).
A bombing explodes killing innocent people in an East Bay shopping mall. The two teenage boys are among the dead.
The police investigators target the Munsif family since they are not ethnic Americans. Upon investigation it is learned and broadcast on local news that Ali was detained for four days after 9/11 for questioning in a racial profiling miff. That incident has haunted the family ever since and all eyes are initially upon them. Son Walter has also visited a Mosque and that sends out a red flag that he might have been part of a Jihad Holy War. Meanwhile it turns out that Lea’s son Eddie was a loner who was bullied at high school and had a history of fighting.
Lea and Maryam initially console each other after the bombing but that comfort is quickly cooled when each suspect each other of the bombing. Detective Kalkowitz (John Heard) and Agent Reese (Sharon Washington) grill the parents for culpability and with search warrants turn their residences upside down.
Random senseless acts of terrorism within a larger political context is the subject of many films post 9/11, and this one’s virtue is tight framing within a suburban area that is a microcosm of global issues.
Mahnoor Baloch carries the film with her superb acting performance. The filmmakers traveled to Karachi to cast her in “Torn”.