It is an academic work, with the scholarly apparatus that that implies.
Palestinian Cinema: 10 Must-See Movies From The Territories
However, I strove to write it in accessible prose. I hope that filmmakers, programmers, and activists interested in Palestine, in addition to students and researchers, will read the book. This year organizations and institutions around the world are marking the fiftieth anniversary of the momentous events of Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of the Arab-Israeli war.
These landmarks remind us to look back at the cultural and political legacies of these historical moments and to plumb them for insights into our what is happening today. Finally, as I note in the introduction of the book, The Palestinian films of the s are important as an archive of a particular Palestinian experience that derives significance not only from its content, but also from the fact that these, and other Palestinian archives are continually being erased.
Resisting that erasure has always been a key component of Palestinian activism. This book is, to some extent, a contribution to that work. While this period has been covered in various studies of various national cinemas in the Arab world, no one has examined filmmaking from this period from a regional perspective. My study will focus on the interrelationships between different sectors of filmmaking and how some filmmakers moved between them.
One still encounters expressions of hope in relation to Palestinian activism—a belief in the ultimate triumph of justice, for instance—but there is no organized political project today like the Palestinian revolution of the s. Individuals and groups are conducting important work for Palestinian rights, but there exists no unifying vision for how to arrive at a better future or what that future should constitute—whether the goal is an amelioration of conditions on the ground, an end to occupation, one, two, or no states, and so forth.
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Already in the s Arab states were using the Palestinian cause for their own political ends that had little or nothing to do with the Palestinians and their needs. Today, Palestinians must contend with the residue of five decades of that instrumentalization and the cynicism it has engendered. The Palestinian cause has also been affected in complex ways by various Islamic political movements in recent decades. All of this is reflected in one way or another in the films Palestinians are making today, and in particular in the various ways in which they engage with the Palestinian revolution, with nostalgia, anger, and resignation.
However, my book should not be read as an elegy. This is a bleak time politically and economically not just for Palestinians but for the Arab world as a whole, and it is difficult to imagine how conditions in the region might improve anytime soon. Nonetheless, there is a tremendous degree of cultural and political dynamism in the Arab world. People are very active at the local level, and a wealth of innovative art, film, literature, and music is emerging from the region.
We must not lose sight of that work and the promise it contains. Kassem Hawal made several attempts to direct a fictional film. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he chose not to address limited resources and expertise through small films, but rather to create something of a film epic by mobilizing a commitment to the Palestinian cause via enthusiastic volunteerism.
Most significantly, Hawal recreated the Palestinian exodus from Haifa in April in an epic crowd scene shot at the harbor in Tripoli.
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The scene included thousands of extras, dozens of boats, and aerial shots of the action. Hawal spent six months writing the script and planning the production.
With the help of PFLP offices in northern Lebanon where the film was shot, he recruited thousands of volunteers from among residents of Tripoli, the Nahr al-Barid and Badawi refugee camps, and the villages of Ihdin and Zgharta. PFLP members went door to door, explaining the importance of the project and recruiting volunteers.
A sense of unbelonging, in other words, is not countered with uncomplicated claims of belonging. Rather, the concept of home remains unsettled, mirroring the sense that Palestinian sovereignty is itself unsettled. Butler describes:. When the disorganization and disaggregation of the field of bodies disrupt the regulatory fiction of heterosexual coherence, it seems that the expressive model loses its descriptive force.
That regulatory ideal is then exposed as a norm and a fiction that disguises itself as a developmental law regulating the sexual field that it purports to describe. Butler, The idealization of home in this context confirms the extent to which Zionism involves rigid protection of certain ethnic and conceptual borders of belonging.
Such recognized funders do provide a certain sense of legitimacy to Palestinian films, even though such films are still often subject to controversy if they are seen as criticizing Israeli policies, military occupation, and society. For example, Sara Ahmed succinctly describes the terms through which freedom may be construed, whereby. Such a negative model of freedom idealises movement and detachment, constructing a mobile form of subjectivity that could escape from the norms that constrain what it is that bodies can do.
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Ahmed, Said explains a Palestinian mode of living as a sense of partiality, where meanings attach to events and objects in seemingly accidentally ways, which perhaps better explains the relation between the politics of possibility:. For where no straight line leads from home to birthplace to school to maturity, all events are accidents, all progress is a digression, all residence is exile. We linger in nondescript places, neither here nor there; we peer through windows without glass, ride conveyances without movement or power.
Said, Here Said describes a mode of being in the world that marks exilic or diasporic experience, but which also shares a kind of damaged insofar as it fails in normative terms life itinerary with notions of queer temporality. Halberstam, For Said, Palestinian communal identity is similarly already fostered through unstable routes that indicate the insurmountable instability of Palestinian identity:. How rich our mutability, how easily we change and are changed from one thing to another, how unstable our place — and all because of the missing foundation of our existence, the lost ground of our origin, the broken link with our land and our past.
There are no Palestinians. Who are the Palestinians? Since queer and diasporic positions generate their own kinds of sociality and possibility, this suggests they persist regardless of unstable foundations and unfixed meaning.
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Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles, or that our pain is the same pain, or that our hope is for the same future. Solidarity involves commitment, and work, as well as the recognition that even if we do not have the same feelings, or the same lives, or the same bodies, we do live on common ground. The film thus addresses the uncertainty and complexity of return in relation to differing Palestinian experiences — the Palestinian-American Soraya, our protagonist from Brooklyn, wants to remain in Palestine but is restricted by Israel, whereas her new friend Emad would like to leave the West Bank, but Israel denies his visa.
The woman, who uses anti-occupation mugs for her coffee, welcomes them inside, but Soraya insists they drop the polite behavior. Soraya wakes up and pretends they are Jewish campers when a history teacher played ironically by the late Juliano Mer Khamis happens upon them while leading his students on a tour of the land, ignoring the Palestinian Arab history of the place and discussing only its Jewish and Biblical history.
While via the interior shots of the ruined house Soraya and Emad construct the possibility of home, belonging and future, an exterior shot emphasizes the Zionist view of the landscape.
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Outside the makeshift home, the Israeli tour guide tells them he takes his students here to remind how the Jews reclaimed a ruined landscape, again underscoring the constrained context for Palestinian home-making under occupation. Shortly after this scene Soraya and Emad are discovered, captured, and forcibly separated by Israeli security forces. His breaking off from the group is not so much characterized as a betrayal as much as it suggests that there is no single, viable position for Palestinians living under occupation.
Their journey models a kind of alliance between diasporic and non-diasporic Palestinians, suggesting how their solidarity need not arise from a settled position or place. As the frequent grounds for imagining national and regional ties, collective identity, and familial belonging, the house can be a reminder of how discourses of identity and belonging often rely on a presumptive rigidity. If the house serves to some extent as the proof of stable identity, literally grounded in place, then various kinds of un-housings bear a significant relation to both the question of identity and of proof.
There are many ways in which we can be made to feel we do not belong — through restricted access to citizenship and cultural discourses about race, gender, sexuality to name only a few. Yet, there are also ways to still articulate and feel a sense of belonging — to some place or some group — even in those cases when it is denied or constrained. It is tempting to expose the house, like the nation or family, as only a seemingly solid foundation that is in fact unstable, contested and always under construction, and yet this can lead to an unproductive and problematic dichotomy between perceived rigidity and flexibility.
In other words, keeping in mind that the house is a literal space of identity-formation and belonging discourses as well as a site of destruction, loss and occupation — as a location of intersecting power relations — mitigates a tempting tendency to locate de-facto spaces of possibility and resistance.
How, in other words, do Palestinians articulate belonging under various states of unsettled duress? In light of this, queer diaspora and a broader notion of queer solidarity suggests a kind of alliance that, through sustained critique of identity, need not be mutually beneficial, and may be at times about risking the self for the other.
A queer alliance would not compel proper positioning or straight lines, but attention to constant change, to the re-ordering of priorities and positions perhaps what Ahmed means by commitment and work , to letting what one is aligned with change and remain somewhat uncontrollable, unfixed, and unknowable. I explored this through the rather literal example of anti-foundational forms of belonging and community forged in spite of, or rather through, houses in various conditions of destruction, occupation, and apparent unlivability.
Furthermore, queer critique offers a way to think differently about the various strategies within Palestinian cinema that reject conventions of representation and assumptions about visibility, appearance, and recognition. These alternative modes of aligning with a never-arrived-at home suggest the possibility of forming alliances and building coalitions that counter colonial and neo-liberal notions of home, belonging, and identity.
Following in the literary and cultural practice of sumud , or steadfastness, they compel Palestinian society to continue to imagine ever decreasingly idealized or normative concepts of home that, even without foundations, compel a persistent critique and express a refusal to concede material or immaterial attachments to Palestine, whatever its meaning for diverse and dispersed Palestinian communities.
New York: Routledge. Arasoughly, Alia ed.
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Bergland, Renee L. In English, palestinian [Arabic]. In the Image, explores the daily lives of Palestinian women living in the occupied West Bank. Six days in June Video Paris : Point du Jour International, Multiple languages. This edition in Hebrew, Arabic, and English with English subtitles. Inspired by his father's diaries, letters his mother sent to family members who had fled the Israeli occupation, and the director's own recollections, the film recounts the saga of the filmmaker's family in subtly hilarious vignettes.
Uris Library Dean Room Videodisc New Palestine films to look out for and others to watch online. Netflix Instant offers all manner of international films in many languages, but every single film on this list of Netflix Arabic movies stands out. Some are documentaries, some are dramas, and some are thrillers, but all are superb Arabic movies streaming on Netflix. Alexander Street Press have deals on their packages, which the library has bought, but do sell individual titles now as well.
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