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Archive for the ‘Palestinian Cinema’ Category

Omar (Palestinian territories 2013)

Posted by keith1942 on 26 July 2014

Omar still

The current intensification of the war by Israel against Palestinians makes this film timely viewing. The basic story concerns a young Palestinian militant who is forced to become an informant for the Israeli security in the occupied West Bank. The film also follows a triangular relationship amongst the Palestinians. What makes it so effective is the representation of the life of Palestinians under occupation. In particular the film makes good use of the ‘separation walls’ constructed by the Israelis to control the Palestinians. The film was shot predominately in Nablus and Nazareth and locations are often recognisable from newsreel and documentary films.

Omar has been written and directed by Hany Abu-Assad. His earlier Paradise Now (2005) was a critical and festival success. This film is more conventional, especially in the personal drama. But like the earlier film it has a sense of raw reality and an often-powerful mise en scène.

Predictably the film has only a limited distribution in the UK and some institutions have had problems with attribution. However it is screening at the Hebden Bridge Picture House on the 29th and 30th of August. Definitely a film to be seen.

Posted in Palestinian Cinema | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Al-Nakba (Qatar/Palestine 2008)

Posted by keith1942 on 15 May 2013

nakba5

This is a documentary film about ‘the catastrophe’ that befell the Palestinian people in 1948. It traces the history of the colonial policies and actions that led to their expulsion from their homeland. It was made by Palestinian filmmaker and journalist Rawan Damen in 2008 and transmitted on the Al Jazeera Arabic network. Now an English-Language version is being transmitted on their English Television network [Freeview 83 in the UK, with other language versions also available]. It runs for 200 minutes and is going out in four parts. Two episodes have already been transmitted but are being repeated.

Rawan Damen’s film is a fairly conventional television documentary using ‘talking heads’ and film and photographs. Much of the material and comment has been available in academic and historical publication. But now it is being presented in a fairly popular medium and it has the advantage of using visual material, which brings an increased power to the story.

The film starts with the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt, a key event that was analysed by the Palestinian writer Edward Said in his great work Orientalism. The first two episodes address the British occupation and Mandate of Palestine following the First World War. In was in that conflict that the new Zionist Movement achieved its coup of the Balfour Declaration – the British support for a Jewish State was seen as a way of ensuring the British presence and it’s interests across the Middle East.

It is difficult to decide which was more objectionable: the British colonial manipulation of a people and its lands, or the Machiavellian manoeuvrings of the Zionist in pursuit of a ‘Greater Israel’. Certainly the policies and practices of each have much in common. The British Mandate saw the use of house arrests and executions, concentration camps, house demolitions, the exiling of leaders and the harassment and dissolution of Palestinian institutions. Just as British laws from the Mandate still serve the Zionist State, so do the brutal methods pioneered by the British.

Episode two focuses on the Palestinian resistance and revolution from 1936 to 1939. This is a part of the tale which gives lie to Zionist clams of  ’a land without people'; and claims that a Palestinian nation did not exist. It also highlights the weakness and limitations of the Palestinian and Arab official leaders. Their failings were to be an important aid to the Zionist take-over in 1948. The other was the development of the Zionist military forces, which were happy to use actions now loudly condemned as ‘terrorism’ by Israel.

Rawan Damen has added an impressive range of commentators, including both Palestinian and Israeli historians, and ordinary Palestinians including refugees from Al-Nakba. This and the impressive array of actual film from the period really create its effect. There has been excellent research to retrieve film that has not been seen for a long time, including material in the British Archives.

This is both an important documentary film and contribution to the struggles of the Palestinian people. Fortunately Al Jazeera tend to repeat their programme several times. So it will be possible to catch up with episodes one and two if you missed them. Episode three will take us to the key year of 1948. Definitely tune into Al Jazeera -  the channel is worth watching for a different slant on the news.

[Note that their transmission times are given in GMT not in British Summer Time],

Posted in Arab Cinema, Documentary, Film archives, Films by women, Palestinian Cinema, TV | Leave a Comment »

Five Broken Cameras (Palestine/Israel/France/Netherlands 2012)

Posted by Roy Stafford on 8 February 2013

The 'no-man's land' where the olive trees were. The black objects on the ground, shaped like light-bulbs, are Israeli tear gas cartridges.

The ‘no-man’s land’ where the olive trees were. The black objects on the ground, shaped like light-bulbs, are Israeli tear gas cartridges.

Five Broken Cameras is an engaging and well-made documentary. It’s affective in making us feel the emotions of the filmmaker who was compelled to complete it and it deserves the praise it has received and the audience interest it has attracted. The events it portrays are shocking and in a civilised world they would be one of the catalysts for change. But we don’t live in a civilised world and as yet there seems little sign that enough people in a position to change things have the courage to carry out changes.

Five Broken Cameras is a certain kind of documentary and that may also be part of the problem – though it shouldn’t necessarily be so. I’ll try to explain what I mean. The cameras of the title were each used by a Palestinian farmer to document the theft of his land by Israeli settlers illegally occupying territory in the West Bank to the west of Ramallah from 2005 onwards. The film doesn’t attempt to fill in all the history or to run through all the questions surrounding the Occupation of Palestine and the building of settlements which contravene international law as well as being (as in this case) illegal under Israeli law. Instead, it appeals directly to the viewer in terms of the obvious suffering of the Palestinians when they try to resist the bulldozers which uproot their olive trees and the Israeli soldiers and police who attack them with tear gas, arrest them and occasionally kill them during attempts to squash their protests.

Emad Burnat, the farmer at the centre of the film and the co-director (as well as the principal cinematographer, using the five cameras) was himself wounded and arrested and recorded the arrest of each of his brothers and the death of one of his comrades in the village during their protests. The co-director, writer and co-editor of the film is Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker who trained partly in Paris and who lived in the Palestinian village of Bil’in for three months in 2005 when Emad began filming. But just as the film doesn’t elaborate on the history and politics of the situation, it also doesn’t explain/explore the Israeli support for the village protests – i.e. the Israeli activists who fight against the Occupation. They are shown and occasionally referenced but not in any detail. The same goes for the international supporters who travelled out to the West Bank to show solidarity. I’m not suggesting that there is anything sinister in this, but that it adds to the overall feeling that this is a very ‘personal’ film about a man and five cameras (each of which is damaged during the filming or deliberately smashed by Israeli soldiers). I suspect that this ‘personal’ approach has helped the film reach a wider audience, especially in North America, and it has been nominated for ‘Best Documentary Feature’ at the 2013 Oscars. What is slightly sinister is the film’s depiction of the settlers – Orthodox Jews who are perhaps the least ‘humanised’ by the camera’s gaze. The Israeli settlers seen here trouble me deeply – I can’t think of anything about them that would attract my sympathy – but I don’t want to feel that way about anybody and I wonder if the filmmakers’ decision not to invite them to speak or not to attempt to present their perspective, somehow damages the strength of the film’s polemic. I’m not asking for ‘balance’ – the settlers are in the wrong, that’s the starting point. But we’ve got to try to treat them like human beings, otherwise they are trapped behind their fences in the same way that they have deliberately put the Palestinians behind a fence/wall.

Emad states at the beginning of the film that he is a ‘fella’ – a peasant attached to his land. The rough land which supports only olive trees and a few sheep/goats has been the property of the families in the village since before anyone can remember. The sight of bulldozers digging up the trees or the sheer vandalism of setting the trees on fire, even before the barbed wire has staked out the land grab by the settlers, is contrasted with the almost comical tree-hugging of one of the villagers. This is one of the most affecting shots in the film. The destruction of Palestinian olive groves is perhaps the most powerful symbol of the Occupation alongside the Dividing Wall.

The one absolute plus of the film is that it celebrates the resistance over five years of the whole community in Bil’in. I’m sure that’s what stayed with the sizeable audience in the cinema. I hope the film wins the Oscar, if only because that will help more people to see the film. The more exposure that these stories get, the more chance we have of putting pressure on the Israeli government. There is one scene in the film in which we watch someone from the Israeli security forces deliberately shoot a protestor in the leg from only a few yards away. I wonder if the offender was brought to justice?

Posted in Arab Cinema, Documentary, Palestinian Cinema | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Films From the South #2: Man Without a Cellphone (Bidoun Mobile, Palestine/Israel/Fra/Bel/Qatar 2010)

Posted by Roy Stafford on 8 October 2011

Jawdat (Razi Shawahdeh) uses his phone in the field by the mast as his father Salem (Basem Loulou) looks on.

This witty and sharp little film (only 78 mins) is one of several recent productions from Arab filmmakers that defy easy categorisation in institutional terms. Director Sameh Zoabi was born in a village close to Nazareth in 1975 and took a joint English and Film degree at Tel Aviv before completing a Masters in Film Direction at Columbia University in New York. This is his first feature after critical acclaim for his 2005 short film Be Quiet at Cannes. Supported by two Israeli Film Council backed funding bodies plus French and Belgian funding as well as support from Sundance and the Doha Film Institute, Man Without Cellphone pokes at the sore issue of Palestinian identity within Israel’s declared borders – Palestinian land first occupied after 1948, rather than in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

In a personal statement on the Memento Films website, Sameh Zoabi tells us:

Growing up, our own communities and schools are not integrated into the larger Israeli society. After high school, many young people flock to universities and the work place where they must interact with the larger Jewish-Israeli population for the first time. Leaving home is a major transition and time of self-discovery for young adults across all cultures, but it is particularly unique to Palestinian-Israelis, who come to realize their status as second class citizens with full force. In the media, the struggle for equal rights is overshadowed by the larger political milieu of the region, and is lacking in personal stories of everyday people.

In finding a way to explore these ‘personal stories’, Zoabi hits on a number of ideas that have also turned up in two other productions from the region, the Israeli film The Lemon Tree and the Palestinian film Rana’s Wedding. In this case it is not a Palestinian lemon orchard but an olive grove that sits next to an Israeli development. The new development is a mobile phone mast which improves the reception of the villagers (both Arab and Jewish communities) but angers the older farmers including Salem who owns the olives and believes the mast is sending out radiation to give the Arab villagers cancer and to ruin the olive crop. But his 20 year-old son Jawdat enjoys the new reception and is more interested in dating girls – Muslim or Christian Arabs, or even Jewish or Russian. The twist is that Jawdat has no real future because he keeps failing the Hebrew entrance test for university – unlike his sister who is already there. The plot requires Jawdat to be reconciled with his father in order to galvanise the community fight to have the phone tower removed and this is achieved (i.e. Jawdat does help) by that standby of Palestinian films, the need to get permission to cross into the West Bank (thus the link to Rana’s Wedding, a serio-comic film narrative about organising movement between Jerusalem and Ramallah). I won’t spoil the narrative pleasure of Man Without a Cellphone any more, suffice to say that the narrative device works well. I should also note that the interaction of the men and women (old and young) in the village is treated in ways similar to that in the Nadine Labaki film we saw yesterday.

I enjoyed the film very much. There are plenty of laughs and Jawdat and his friend Muhammad are very likeable characters. But the dig at both generational conflicts within the Palestinian communities and the unjust treatment of Arabs in Israel is clear throughout. I hope the film gets widely seen. My only concern is the length. ‘Short’ features like this often fail to get distribution or are shunned by audiences. I felt that some elements of the narrative could have been extended – but perhaps budget constraints were the problem.

Go here to see the ‘pitch preview’ of the film on the website of the Doha Film Institute.

Posted in Arab Cinema, Festivals and Conferences, Palestinian Cinema | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Amreeka (US, Canada, Kuwait 2009)

Posted by Roy Stafford on 18 May 2011

Nisreen Faour as Muna (left) and Hiam Abbass as Raghda

This is a conventional family melodrama with a ‘feelgood’ ending (though a few narrative strands are left open) and plenty of laughs. There is nothing new or surprising about how the film is shot (though the filmmaker cites Mike Leigh and Robert Altman as influences on the camera style) and much of the story is predictable. But . . . everything in the film is enjoyable, it is well acted and ingeniously produced and, most of all, it tells us something about a particular experience for a group not often represented in cinema – Arab-Americans.

‘Amreeka’ is the Arabic for ‘America’ represented here by Illinois during the invasion of Iraq. The story starts in Bethlehem where Muna, the divorced mother of 16 year-old Fadi is struggling to get to her job through the Israeli roadblocks, to pay for son’s private school and look after her demanding mother. One day, unexpectedly, she receives a letter telling her that her application to travel to the US to stay with her sister has been approved. She takes off with Fadi and the narrative outlines how the two of them fare in the ‘land of the free’. Some Americans are surprisingly friendly but a minority treat them like stereotypical ‘terrorists’.

Amreeka is the first feature by writer-director Cherien Dabis who was born in Ohio to Palestinian-Jordanian parents and she has lived in Jordan as well as the US. Many of the scenes are based on her own experiences as a teenager during the first Iraq War. She had previously made a prize-winning short and acted as a writer and co-producer on the TV series The L-Word. Amreeka was possible because of various awards and sponsorship schemes involving film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin and Tribeca. In fact the production acts as a fascinating example of how specialised films manage to get made. Although clearly a low budget production, the cast has a couple of well known faces and the crew is highly experienced. The production eventually came together with final funding from a Kuwaiti company and significant Canadian input. The production included shoots in Ramallah and Chicago but I’m guessing it was the array of ‘soft money’ support from various Canadian sources that prompted the move to Manitoba standing in for small town Illinois. In the production notes on the official website Cherien Dabis tells us that they had no budget to decorate a typical Arab home in North America until they found a family in Winnipeg who had come from Ramallah and who were willing to lend their house for the shoot. They also received support from the White Castle hamburger company who kitted out a set for them – this has the added advantage of linking the film to those popular Asian-American characters Harold and Kumar.

One of the great strengths of the film is the casting of Nisreen Faour, a talented performer from Haifa as Muna. She is hugely engaging and convincing. Cherien Dabis suggests that she is at once childlike but also is able to convey pain and suffering behind her sunny smile. She is ably supported by Melkar Muallem from Jerusalem/Ramallah as Fadi. Hiam Abbass is a familiar face from both American and Israeli/Palestinian films and she plays Muna’s sister perfectly, reigning in the power that makes her so often a formidable presence. Good to see as well is Alia Shawkat who was so impressive in Drew Barrymore’s début as a director, Whip It, made at roughly the same time as Amreeka. Her father is an Iraqi actor and she has spoken about wanting to support Arab-American culture. The other cast members all contribute strongly – though I did feel that the cops in the police station were clearly Canadian not American.

Amreeka often teeters on the edge of predictability but then manages to step back, e.g. the school principal who becomes supportive to Muna almost inevitably announces that he is Polish-Jewish but this turns out to be not such a big deal. The film handles the other religion question quite carefully. We are expecting that Muna and Fadi will be targeted as ‘Muslim terrorists’ but early on there are clues to their Christianity. They come from Bethlehem which makes it possible but Raghda’s crucifix necklace confirms it. The script also has the best ‘occupation joke’ I’ve heard for a while. The film plays with the balance between how difficult life now is on the West Bank but also how difficult it can be in small-town America when the news from Iraq is on every TV screen. Raghda wants to go back to Palestine – she doesn’t understand how it has changed. Muna doesn’t really understand what is happening in America. There’s a lot everyone needs to learn.

Overall I think there is a good balance of ‘comfortable’ and ‘uncomfortable’ moments and it’s a melodrama so the music is good as well. I’m just left wondering why it took so long for Amreeka to reach the UK.

Posted in American Independents, Arab Cinema, Canadian Cinema, Melodrama, Palestinian Cinema | Leave a Comment »

Good news for cinema in Palestine

Posted by Roy Stafford on 10 August 2010

The re-opening of Jenin's cinema (image by Alaa Badarneh/EPA from MSNBC web posting)

Palestine has a new cinema, making, I think, three in all in the West Bank. The cinema in Jenin, in the Northern part of the West Bank has been re-opened after more than 20 years. It closed after the first Intifada in 1987. The re-opening last week was widely reported (see the various Google listings here) and the full background to the campaign leading to the re-opening can be downloaded here. The majority of the money needed has come from a German governmental source following the participation of the documentary filmmaker Marcus Vetter, who joined local campaigner Ismael Khatib. Vetter made the documentary Heart of Jenin about Khatib’s decision to donate his child’s organs after Israeli soldiers shot dead the 12 year-old boy carrying a toy gun. Equipment suppliers offered various goods and services ‘in kind’ and there were substantial private donations led by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame.

Unlike the previous opening of a new cinema in Nablus last year, which is a mainly commercial venture, the Jenin project stresses community activities and a range of cultural programming. Palestine urgently needs both kinds of venture and it’s great to see this happening. It’s also interesting to see how the story has been reported – the cinema is reported to have 300, 350 or 400 seats depending on which report you read. But all agree that there are a range of facilities available, including an outdoor screening facility. More controversially, there does seem to be some local disquiet that the re-opening symbolises a possible ‘normalisation’ of relations with the Israeli occupation, especially if Israeli films will be shown (albeit ones which focus on the Arab experience in occupied Palestine). A report in the Lebanese Daily Star also suggests that the new operation will respect local concerns and that screenings may be offered for women only in a programme of ‘quality films’.

How the cinema was before the restoration (from the Cinema Jenin Project)

Making films in Palestine isn’t easy for a whole range of reasons – not least because most young Palestinians have never even seen a film in a cinema and antipathy to any venture that requires tacit Israeli approval (i.e. allowing equipment and personnel into the West Bank and Gaza) is understandable. It is amazing therefore that Palestinian film culture flourishes at all. I hope that the new cinema prompts more local participation.

Posted in Arab Cinema, Palestinian Cinema | 3 Comments »

The Time That Remains (France/Italy/Belgium/UK 2009)

Posted by Roy Stafford on 4 August 2010

The impact of the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970 is felt in the Suleiman household.

What a terrific film! It is astonishing that someone could become such an accomplished and controlled filmmaker after only a handful of features spread over many years. The Time That Remains is intensely moving, very funny and incisive in its critique. It won’t please everybody and I confess that I only ‘got’ parts of it because of the investment I made in exploring writer-director Elia Suleiman’s previous film, Divine Intervention (2002).

Like the earlier film, The Time That Remains is a sharp commentary on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian town of Nazareth which was ‘incorporated’ into the state of Israel in 1948. This time the historical events provide the structure of the film that tells the story of the director’s own family. The film opens in the present but soon switches to the moment of the Arab defeat in July 1948 when Elia’s father Fouad is a young toolmaker providing the local men with weapons. The narrative then moves forward to re-visit the Suleiman family when the son (referred to as ‘E.S.’) is first a young schoolboy, then an older student and finally in the present when the director, playing himself, visits his elderly mother.

The linear narrative with clear historical references makes the film in some ways more accessible than the series of sketches which detail contemporary life in Nazareth as seen in Divine Intervention. The recognisable structure means that, at least for me, it doesn’t feel as comedic or surreal as the earlier film (which also featured Suleiman Senior), though there are moments of surreal comedy. For instance, a running gag sees a next door neighbour who routinely gets drunk – in the first few scenes dowsing himself in petrol and trying to immolate himself and in later scenes claiming that his drunken state gives him powers that enable him to pluck Israeli planes from the sky. “It’s only logical” he says. (This is a Christian Arab community, so drinking arak is not as shocking as some commentators imply.) Other tropes of the director’s style also carry over from the previous film. He himself remains a largely passive character who never speaks – though he has some interesting non-verbal interactions with his mother. In several scenes the camera is kept static while comic scenes unfold in long shot – a hospital corridor is shown from outside the building as police and doctors play a game of tag with a wounded man, pulling his stretcher trolley one way and then the other.

Apart from the opening wartime scene, which includes a comic commentary on the failures of the Arab armies in 1948 (and which disturbingly shows the Israeli soldiers dressed much like British ‘tommies’ – which many of them had been – committing atrocities in Nazareth), the film is more subtle in its critique than Divine Intervention. Or at least, that’s how it felt to me. Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian seems to like the film but complains that the title isn’t explained. He suggests that it signals a kind of acceptance. I don’t agree with this and Suleiman himself offers this statement (which if it first appears elliptical, does, I think, make sense:

“The [title] of this film is a political term that describes the Palestinians who remain on their own land, who are insiders and absentees, while they remain on their own land,” Suleiman continued, “It’s a very political term which I appropriated . . . from my personal context being present and absent, someone who is an outsider and an insider, someone who does not live in one place but always departs.” (from indiewire, May 2009)

Suleiman himself is in some ways a typical Palestinian filmmaker – ‘exilic’ in his perspective as an outsider and insider. The film is essentially his own observations on the memories bestowed to him by his father and the letters and cards sent by other relatives who moved to Jordan. As is often the case, the most powerful statements against the occupation are the most personal. In school, the young ES is challenged for claiming that the Americans are ‘colonialists’ and ‘imperialists’. The (Arab) school wins a prize in a Hebrew singing competition. A screening of Spartacus in the school stimulates the children’s sense of resistance – as their teacher attempts to protect them from the film’s portrayal of sexual desire.

Suleiman’s work is often compared to Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton in terms of sight gags and to Buñuel in its surrealism. This film has also prompted references to Fellini for its personal histories (i.e. like Amarcord). I think all these references can be justified but I worry that they deflect attention from Suleiman’s original, personal and highly political perspective on a specific tragedy – the occupation of Palestine.

This fascinating Facebook page on the film offers links to extracts, photos and background materials.

Here is the UK trailer:

Seen at Chapter, Cardiff Cinema 2, 29/7/10

Posted in Arab Cinema, Film Reviews, Palestinian Cinema | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Ajami (Israel/Germany 2009)

Posted by Roy Stafford on 2 August 2010

Malek and Omar in Ajami

This was a film I was eager to see having watched an item about its making on a YouTube clip from Al-Jazeera. I confess that about a third of the way through the screening, I began to wonder if I was going to be disappointed because I was finding the story hard to follow and the rough and ready camerawork was not offering me much visual pleasure. But when I finally grasped how the narrative was working I found everything to be much more rewarding. I’m still not sure about some aspects of the film, but I can see why it has won so many awards, including a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Plot outline (no major spoilers)

In the fashion of several recent films such as Gomorra, Crash (US 2004) or Amore Perros, Ajami offers several overlapping stories which are retold from different perspectives. Misleading ‘chapter’ headings suggest a linear narrative and for a moment I had the feeling that the reels were being projected out of order (except that I knew that it was a digital print!).

The title refers to a district of Jaffa, the now Israeli port city which has been almost swallowed by Tel Aviv. The district has a predominantly Arab population, but also a Jewish minority – the city is Jewish overall. The Arabs are both Muslim and Christian. The narrative begins with a feud between an Arab Muslim family and a Bedouin family from the Negev. After a series of tit-for-tat shootings, a ‘negotiator’ organises a financial settlement. This leaves Omar, the surviving oldest member of the Ajami family, with the task of finding a large sum of money in a short time. Inevitably, 19 year-old Omar is forced to turn to drug smuggling to raise money quickly. The story is narrated by Omar’s younger brother Nasri and the separate plotlines are linked via the restaurant/transport business where Omar works. Malek is a young man from the West Bank working in the restaurant illegally. His mother is seriously ill and he needs money for her medical care. ‘Binj’ is a chef with a Jewish girlfriend and Dando is a Jewish police officer. The restaurant is owned by a Christian Arab, Abu Elias, who helps both Malek and Omar – but Omar risks all in conducting a secret relationship with his boss’s daughter Hadir.

Commentary

The film has a low budget and a cast of non-professional actors who attended workshops set up by the two writer-editor-directors, one Jewish, Yaron Shani and the other Arab, Scandar Copti. Copti also plays the role of Binj. The whole process took around seven years to prepare, workshop, shoot and edit. IMDB suggests that it was shot on 35mm, but the definition of the print I saw suggests that it was digital or Super 16. The shooting and directing style appears to echo Ken Loach with an observational camera and non-professionals required to react to certain dramatic actions not directly explained in a script that is otherwise quite carefully fashioned.

The interest in the film is explained by three things, I think:

  • the acting style, camerawork and editing all contribute to a ‘gritty’ authentic feel;
  • despite the obvious antagonisms between different cultural groups and occasional asides about the occupation, the film doesn’t ‘take sides’ as such and is seen by several commentators as ‘even-handed';
  • the use of familiar genre conventions such as family feuds, drug deals, over-strict fathers, exploitation of illegals etc., means that despite the non-linear narrative the film is still accessible to a wide audience (even if the subtitles and low budget will keep it out of multiplexes).

These three factors make this a film that could be used with 16-19 students in the same way that City of God/La haine and other youth crime films have proved so successful. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will develop a sufficiently high profile to attract teachers. It would also need a fair amount of work to explain the background to the plot (even Sight and Sound‘s subs make a mistake in referring to ‘Berbers’ rather than Bedouin).

Overall, it is clearly the work of young talents and can’t directly compete with City of God/La haine etc. I think it is perhaps 10 minutes too long, but still fails to deliver on some aspects of the narrative. However, it does offer something fresh. I’m glad that I saw it  and I look forward to further work by this pair.

Here’s the UK trailer (which strangely overplays the political narrative):

The US trailer is perhaps a better intro to the film:

Press Pack

Seen at Cubby Broccoli Cinema, Bradford, 1/8/2010

Posted in Arab Cinema, Palestinian Cinema | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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