I don’t know about you, but outside my window there’s rain. It’s a chilly saturday. And I am not working today. It’s a perfect time for books, movies, some tea.
So, if you’re now or sometime in the same situation, here are some great palestinian movies to put on your watchlist (palestinian cinema/cinema dealing with israeli-palestinian issues is among my favorites).
The movie revolves around Ajami, religiously mixed community of Muslims and Christians in Tel Aviv. There are five stories about the everyday life in Ajami, mixed together. The mode of storytelling is amazing and powerful – a character will appear two chapters later only for his intentions to be revealed then. It’s a modern cinematic piece. There are drugs involved, violence, dark little streets, fury, clashes… If you didn’t know it’s set in Tel Aviv, it could have easily been somewhere in the Latin America, or some ghetto in the outskirts of Paris. Also, the movie was made by a palestinian and and an israeli director, so it’s a masterful cooperation on more than one level. Watch it!
It’s a story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemontree field when a new Israeli Defense Minister moves next to her and threatens to have her lemon grove torn down. It might seem banal, but a tree is much more than just a tree. It represents land, hard work, survival – it represents life. The movie touches on many issues – israeli occuppation through everyday life, but also the lack of will among palestinian officials – in this case – Salma, the widow, gets no help from the local Palestinian politicians, who don’t like rocking the boat. It’s a circle of desperation. Movie was done by an israeli director, Eran Riklis, who did several other great films, including The Syrian Bride.
PARADISE NOW (2005)
It’s a movie about two childhood friends. Who are recruited for a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Yeah, it’s quite hard. Said and Khaled, who have volunteered to be suicide bombers, receive word it will be tomorrow – the cell’s first operation in two years.
Something goes wrong at the crossing, they’re separated, and the action is postponed. Just long enough for renewed questioning of what they’re about to do. Oh my, there are so many thoughts in their heads.
Where’s the solution? Is this the solution? Could there be a solution at all? The film explains a difficult situation without taking a stand or forcing you to do so. Brilliant and a must see (just like other movies Hany Abu- Assad did, great director).
SALT OF THIS SEA (2008)
It’s a story a working-class woman and her experiences traveling back home. Soraya was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and one day discovers that her grandfather’s savings were frozen in a bank account in Jaffa when he was exiled in 1948. Determined, she fulfills her life-long dream of “returning” to Palestine. Finally in Palestine, she meets Emad, a young Palestinian whose ambition, contrary to hers, is to leave forever. He’s tired of the constraints that dictate the lives under oppression. It is a deeply layered film, a film that is quasi-militant and seeped in passion, but devoid of hatred of any kind. Annemarie Jacir is the director. I generally enjoy all of her artistic work, she’s one of the great palestinian talents.
WHEN I SAW YOU (2012)
Now, this is another, more recent movie done by Jacir. The year is 1967. and in Jordan, the world is changing. Tens of thousands of refugees pour across the border from Palestine. Having been separated from his father in the chaos of war, Tarek, 11, and his mother Ghaydaa, are amongst this latest wave of refugees. Placed in “temporary” refugee camps made up of tents and prefab houses until they would be able to return, they wait, like the generation before them who arrived in 1948. Tarek searches a way out, and discovers a new hope emerging with the times. Eventually his free spirit and curious nature lead him to a group of people on a journey that will change their lives. Love, humor, desire to be free – the movie has it all. Inspiring.
We’ve heard a lot about Omar this year, and fairly so. The director is Hany Abu-Assad (same as with The Paradise Now). He did it again! I was amazed when I saw it. It’s a movie about Omar, a young Palestinian freedom fighter who agrees to work as an informant after he’s tricked into an admission of guilt by association in the wake of an Israeli soldier’s killing. It’s a love story. And it’s so complicated. It’s a palestinian story indeed. Just when you think you know what is going to happen it all changes. The story is handled in a harsh, uncompromising manner, and, to skip the long praise – it’s a must see, so see it!
Enjoy the movies!
P.S. My all time favorite, when it comes to dealing with the palestinian issues, Waltz with Bashir, is not featured here, because there will be special posts dedicated to it.