Ben and Ara is a story which  follows the developing relationship between a middle class white male and a young woman of African descent. Through the central characters the viewers are led to examine their own perspectives on themes including the meaning of love, religion, gender, sexuality, and the role that tradition plays in setting a moral code of ‘acceptable” individual behavior.

From Ara’s perspective, life is only lived fully out of a place of faith. She is a black Muslim and has a strong sense of family and duty. We see her struggle with self-determination in the face of societal and parental expectation, which at times would seem at odds with her strong religious beliefs. She has her future mapped out and is on course to complete her studies when she meets and forms an unexpected relationship with Ben.

Ben’s character represents what could be seen as the western world concept of individualism or freedom of choice, to be and live as one desires, with no particular attention to societal or community consensus on what would be considered right or wrong

The story is told with well-articulated dialogue expressing what I think are eternal truths such as the concept of cause and consequence, action and reaction and the assertion that thought develops better outside of oppression. My lasting impression was that true freedom and peace are to be found in authentic connection with others and acceptance of who they are as they are.

Overall a thought provoking and emotionally moving film which is a must see. I give it five stars.

About the Author

Sierra Zion is a youngish woman native to the Shona peoples of Zimbabwe and has made Auckland her home. She is invested in several artistic pursuits including written expression, and on stage antics.