At the end of the 19th century, Zionism, a minority political movement, appeared on the international stage. As theorised by its leaders, it entailed the goal of creating a Jewish state somewhere in the world but particularly in Palestine, then populated by Arabs for thousands of years. How would the Zionist leaders manage to reconcile their political ambitions with the reality on the ground in Palestine at the end of the 19th century? Based on Zionist historical sources, unseen archive footage, print press from the period, official documents, interviews with historians and the testimonies of pre1948 Palestinians, La Terre Parle Arabe trains a historian and a filmmaker’s eye on the explosive truth, one involving cleansing the land of Palestine of its inhabitants. www.youtube.com
La Terre Promise
Francis Reusser, tv-docu Zwitserland, 85 min. 2014.
55 students from the choir of St Michel’s College in Fribourg Switzerland fly to Palestine to give a series of concerts there. They discover the region and conditions under the Israeli occupation.
Mary Ellen Davis 2007 Docu 65 min.
Larry Towell is the only Canadian member of the legendary Magnum Photos agency, known for its humanist and universal approach. Towell belongs to this tradition. His curiosity may guide him sometimes to the heart of conflicts, but his works express a particular sense of intimacy. This documentary reveals the artist and the man through his photographic work and his open meditations on life and the creative process. The film was shot in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank and East Jerusalem), at the border between Mexico and the United States (States of California and Baja California), in New York, and in Southern Ontario, Canada. Towell’s breathtaking images are bound together in this work by multiple notions of territory – forbidden territories, occupied territories, creative territories, and territories of refuge.
Israel/France, 2011, 80 minutes Director: Shlomi Elkabetz
Official Selection – 68th Venice International Film Festival With visual brilliance, testimonies of soldiers, officers and Palestinians are presented by some of Israel’s top actors. A dozen unspoken stories from the lives of Palestinians and Israelis make up an Israeli collective conscience, presenting both sides of the same narrative.
Testimony is a provocative work of hybrid cinema in which Israeli actors perform a series of verbatim testimonies sourced from Palestinians subjected to Israeli atrocity, and from Israeli perpetrators. Delivered entirely in Hebrew, direct to camera, and against evocative empty landscapes, the effect is a deliberately disorienting vision of the collective experience of violence. Director Shlomi Elkabetz has described his intention “to turn the viewer into a witness. To turn the language of the occupier, my language, Hebrew, into his own nightmare.” Denounced by the Israeli Minister of Culture for offering a “distorted view” of reality, Testimony is a bold, at times unsettling film that questions the nature of bearing witness while subverting the familiar orders of nation and language, victim and perpetrator.
PRESENTED AS PART OF OTHER ISRAEL PEACE AND RECONCILIATION PROGRAM Co-presented by B’Tselem USA www.youtube.com
Thank god it's friday
Jan Beddegenoodts – Niel Iwens 2013 Docu 50 min.
Over dagelijks leven in het Palestijnse dorp Nabi Saleh en de aangrenzende Israëlische nederzetting Halamish, waar in het Palestijns dorp de wekelijkse demonstratie begint en men de traangas en rubberen kogels trotseert en in het Israëlische dorp men zich gaat voorbereiden op de Sabbat. De docu werpt een unieke blik op het probleem van de nederzettingen in het Israëlisch/Palestijns conflict. De opnames werden gemaakt op het moment waarbij twee Palestijnse jongeren tijdens de demonstratie werden doodgeschoten. De titel verwijst naar de totaal verschillende manier waarop beide kampen de vrijdag beleven. Ook de reacties bij het vertonen van de docu in beide plaatsen zijn gefilmd. 50 minuten, bekroond met prijs in Argentinie. (jury en publieksprijs Buenos Aires festival aug. 2013)
The Time That Remains is a powerful personal depiction of Palestine since 1948 by Elia Suleiman, the acclaimed director of Divine Intervention and Chronicle of a Disappearance. In Suleiman’s own words this “is a semibiographical film in four episodes, about a family, my family, from 1948 until recent times. The film is inspired by my father’s private diaries, starting from when he was a resistance fighter in 1948, and by my mother’s letters to family members who were forced to leave the country since that time. Combined with my intimate memories of them and with them, the film attempts to portray the daily life of those Palestinians who remained and were labelled ‘IsraeliArabs’, living as a minority in their own homeland.” The film finds Suleiman reprising his enigmatic role as “E.S.” – witness and participant in a series of historic and personal events across Palestine’s history. Laced with the director’s characteristic wit, The Time That Remains has been celebrated as Suleiman’s most complex and rewarding work to date.
Ahmad Habash (Fatenah, 2009) departs from his previous animation style in this accomplished period drama. During the 1948 war, a day after the massacre that shocked the region, an elderly man meets a young father and son running for their lives. The old man, familiar with the area, leads the way as the three take up their common goal of leaving their homeland for safety. On the run after nearly falling into the hands of enemy forces, they take shelter in an abandoned well one held in folklore to possess magical powers…
Starring Mohammed Bakri, Habash’s short is based on a classic story by Ghassan Kanafani. A teacher gets his shoes shined one day the following day he finds the shoe shiner is one of his students and hopes that the student doesn’t remember him and become embarrassed. A moving tale of the danger of preconceptions and the ambivalence of truth.
They came from the east
Najwa Najjar 2004 drama 3 min.
Three young Palestinian women start their journey in the desert. They follow a star through the Palestinian countryside in the midst of harvesters working in the middle of the night (to avoid settler fire), and as they near the star… something anticipated neither by them or the wise men that came before looms ahead.
They do not exist
Mustafa Abu Ali 1974 docu 25 min.
Salvaged from the ruins of Beirut after 1982, Abu Ali’s early film has only recently been made available. Shooting under extraordinary conditions, the director, who worked with Godard on his Ici et Ailleurs (Here and Elsewhere), and founded the PLO’s film division, covers conditions in Lebanon’s refugee camps, the effects of Israeli bombardments, and the lives of guerrillas in training camps. They Do Not Exist is a stylistically unique work which demonstrates the intersection between the political and the aesthetic. Now recognised as a cornerstone in the development of Palestinian cinema, the film only received its Palestine premiere in 2003, when a group of Palestinian artists “smuggled” the director to a makeshift cinema in his hometown of Jerusalem (into which Israel bars his entry). Abu Ali, who saw his film for the first time in 20 years at this clandestine event noted: “We used to say ‘Art for the Struggle’, now it’s ‘Struggle for the Art'” www.youtube.com
They were promised the sea
Director: Kathy Wazana, Canada/Morocco 2013, 74 min., Arab./Engl./Fr./Hebr. with En. ST
Filmmaker Kathy Wazana was born in Casablanca. Her family left Morocco when she was 10 years old with thousands of other Jews. 35 years later Wazana goes back to find out what made these people leave their homes and what made a few ones stay. In her documentary road movie she follows different stories at scattered places. The filmmaker draws a diverse portrait of the Jewish-Moroccan identity, unveiling the complexity of multiple cultural, religious and social factors, as well as the intricate political and societal issues in Jewish-Arab relations in the last hundred years. They Were Promised the Sea is a personal and a universal record of a collective history and heritage, which critically examines the dominating dichotomy of friend and enemy. vimeo.com
This is my land
Tamara Erde docu 94 min. Poland/Palestine/France/Israel 2016
How do the Palestinian and Israeli (Arab and Jewish) education systems teach the history of their nations? The film follows several Israeli and Palestinian teachers over one academic year. Through observing their exchanges and confrontations with students, debates with the ministries curriculum and its restrictions, the viewers obtain an intimate glimpse into the profound and long lasting effect that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict transmits onto the next generation.
Filmmaker Tamara Erde visits different schools in Israel and Palestine and examines how the history of the region is being rewritten there according to political agendas. A compelling view of the propaganda war between the two countries and the shocking influence it has on their youths. With Critics’ Talk on Sun 25-1 in the lobby. Documentary-maker Tamara Erde served in the Israeli army and witnessed the second Intifada in 2002. This sowed the seeds of her film about how history is taught in Israel, in particular the representation of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Ministry of Education prohibited her from filming at state schools, so she filmed at independent schools instead – some of which have their own history books. Erde spent a year filming in an observational style at eight schools, both in Israel and in the occupied territories. She visited a Talmudic school and a school in the Palestinian refugee camp at Nablus. Everywhere, teachers and their young pupils saw the recent history of the Middle East through ideologically tinted spectacles. The vast majority of the Israeli history books devote hardly any or no attention at all to the Palestinians, and Palestinian education is often characterised by the urge for freedom and human rights. With Critics’ Talk on Sun 25-1 in the lobby.
Trailer: www.tamaraerde.com vimeo.com www.youtube.com
This is my picture when I was dead
Mahmoud al-Massad 2010 docu 83 min.
Athens, 1983. The world press reports that 4 year old Bashir is killed in the assassination of his father, a top PLO lieutenant. But what if death is not the end of his journey? What if, in life, like his father, Bashir was today deeply political. Yet, rather than expressing himself with weapons, he uses a means he loved as a child: drawing. Bashir Meraish has today become the finest political cartoonist in Jordan. Now 29 years old, he lives on to witness the dream of Palestinian liberation he and his father died for being steadily ground to dust. Al Massad’s bold stylistic approach stretches the limits of established documentary making to tell a very personal story, the reality of which is far stranger than fiction. vimeo.com
This Land is Mine
Nina Paley 2008 animated film 4 min.
“A brief history of the land called Israel / Palestine / Canaan / the Levant.”
Ever since her remarkable 2008 animated feature film Sita Sings The Blues, I’ve been a great admirer of animator, cartoonist, and free-culture activist Nina Paley’s creative and meta-creative work. The recent situation in Gaza makes Paley’s 2012 animated short film blog.ninapaley.com This Land Is Mine — “a brief history of the land called Israel / Palestine / Canaan / the Levant” — particularly timely.
Using the visual storytelling tropes of comics and videogames, genres characterized by expressive over-the-topness, Paley captures the subtleties and complexities of the interplay of religion, geopolitics, and the fatal human hunger for power underpinning the region’s long history of conflict.
On her blog, Paley offers a viewer’s guide to who’s killing whom, “because you can’t tell the players without a pogrom.” Her work, like Brain Pickings, is supported through donations, so consider making one on her site. vimeo.com
This way up
Georgi Lazarevski docu 60 min.
Just east of Jerusalem, the construction on the wall of separation continues a few metres from a senior citizen’s home. Its unavoidable and spectacular progression gradually isolates the residents from the world of the living, as both visitors and staff face more obstacles with each passing day. A haunting soundtrack of bells and chimes accompanies elderly patients sleeping in wheelchairs, and silhouetted staff members walking down long hallways with glistening floors. In the gardens of Our Lady of Pains, certain individuals continue to protest the barrier wall construction due to feelings of rejection, anger or longing for their lost freedom. One man shouts his political views at the television news broadcast in the common room while two women war with each other over songs. Another man savours the sensual momentary pleasures of cigarettes, coffee, and fruit, as he silently strolls through the home, the garden, and the surrounding area. While presenting the painful sense of despair that rises in the home, this film also captures a sense of levity and hope in its use of rich colours and portrayals of simple pleasures. www.youtube.com
Thorns and Silk
Paulina Tervo 2012 Anaimatie
Thorns and Silk tells four fascinating stories from the West Bank, Palestine. These comprise a series of encounters with women who work in maledominated professions. All four have the courage to break social norms, but not without challenges. We dip into the life of a wedding filmmaker, who films womenonly wedding parties in the conservative city of Hebron. We hear the stories of a female taxi driver who works in the west of Jerusalem. We discover a young police trainee at the national police academy. And we learn about the hardships of life in Nablus from a mother who takes on male roles to keep her family business going. www.viddsee.com
Though I know the river is dry
Omar Robert Hamilton 2013 Drama 22 min.
The protagonist of Omar Robert Hamilton’s tense emotional drama has returned to Palestine. In return, he must relive the trauma of his past and of the painful choice that sent him to America: a choice between a passport for his unborn child and a safe haven for his activist brother. www.youtube.com
Three times divorced
Mara’ana Menuhin, Ibtisam
Three Times Divorced (2007) The film deals with the fate of a Palestinian woman from the Gaza Strip who marries an Arab Bedouin from Israel. After bearing her husband six children, he divorces her and maintains custody of the children, while the woman, who’s residency status in Israel becomes uncertain, is left with nothing.
Taha Awadallah 2009 docu 24 min.
Thyme Seller portrays the daily life of the director’s mother – a Palestinian woman from the Jerusalem area who plants and collects thyme on her land near the pre1967 “Green Line” in order to sell it for a living. Every day, she collects the thyme and walks through the streets of Beit Jala, knocking on doors one after the other, trying to sell the herb to support her family. This moving portrait is new director Taha Awadallah’s graduation project: ‘It’s the least I can do to reward my mother’ www.youtube.com
Ticket from Azrael
Abdallah al-Ghoul 2009 docu 30 min.
Abdallah Al Ghoul’s short documentary charts the efforts of a group of young Palestinian men digging a tunnel extending from Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, through to Egypt. Shot in low light and with minimal technical support, the film provides an unvarnished glimpse into the terrifying conditions and strong sense of camaraderie that characterise the life of young workers keeping these dangerous passages flowing with essential goods and supplies.