In front of the wreckage of war and the bleeding of human beings and stones, the Palestinians are confronted with a bitter reality, they confront it with a smile that strives not to be extinguished, although the voices were torn by tears and the eyes saw unspeakable horrors, and instead of the sky dripping with dew that rained and a hail of bullets, this lasted for eleven days and their sleepless nights. No sooner had the harm begun than the Palestinian resistance responded in turn to the aggression of the Israeli occupation. Not far from that, the residents of Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and other neighborhoods continued to confront attempts to displace them from their homes, despite all the danger facing them.
Iranian director “Saifullah Dada” borrows Ghassan Kanafani’s novel “Returning to Haifa” as an introduction to his film “The Remaining”, striking the structure of the fictional work, redirecting the paths of the heroes and distorting the identity of some of them, to find themselves pushed towards their destiny. Our heroine is Safia, and the year is 1948.
The movie begins with pictures of people together or alone. The images disappear successively as if they are preludes to a possible death for these characters in the same order, within a plot based on a loving couple from Haifa. A doctor named “Said”, his wife “Latifa” and their child “Ferhat”. Latifa writes to her aunt Safiya, the mother-in-law, a letter in which she recounts successive incidents that warn of imminent danger threatening them if they do not leave Haifa. The city is no longer safe, as most cities are. As for Saeed, he recalls the words of his father that he used to repeat: The immigration of Jews to Palestine is a prelude to the occupation of all of it.
On the other hand, Safia appears as a solid woman who sticks to what she has in her never-ending battles with loss. She not only lost her daughter, who died while giving birth, but also her other son and his family, who were killed in the Deir Yassin massacre. Thus, only “Said” was left for her, so she did not hesitate to be on a ship heading to Haifa, to urge her last son to leave the city.
Saad Allah Dada presents the events of the day that Safia, upon her arrival, decided to leave Haifa with Saeed and his family as a pivotal event. The occupation army storms the city, raising its weapons, panic prevails, the houses are forcibly evacuated and those who remain in them are killed. People are forced to gather in the squares and everyone who tries to escape is killed. The camera changes its angles, perhaps to suggest that danger surrounds everyone from all directions, and crowds of women, men and children fall until only lifeless corpses remain. Then, the camera moves back to Latifa as she bathes her young son and cuddles him in the typical maternal warmth that contrasts sharply with grim reality.
Later, “Saeed” and after him “Latifa” are killed as they try to reach their child, so that their last sight will be the white curtains on the balcony of their house and the sound of “Farhat” crying. Soon, groups of Jewish refugees come, and a couple of them settle in the house, they take “Farhat” and change his name to “Moshe”, and they seek to make a film with a Zionist narrative that forges the facts, in direct symbolism of what the occupation has done in Palestine. But “Safiya” survives, and struggles to recover her grandson by trickery, while her husband speaks, saying: “Do you know what it means that this military force has reached its goal? It means that there is a new massacre, and instead of one joy, there will be a thousand children like his story.”
In an interview between Palestinian director Elia Suleiman and journalist Nicholas Rabould published by the New York Times in 2019, Suleiman recalls his preparations for filming the scene of looting of Palestinian homes in his neighborhood, and asking a resident of the neighborhood to film the scene from her balcony, to see the remaining impact bullet holes on the walls of her house. The woman tells that on the day she returned to her home in 1948 from Beirut, where she had spent her honeymoon, and brought souvenirs with her, she found the Haganah (an Israeli military organization) robbing her house and taking those gifts from her. She remembered it all before tears welled up in her eyes, and she had no way to stop them. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)
In the “Record of Disappearance”, “Divine Hand” and “The Remaining Time” trilogy, Suleiman creates a dark, satirical cinematic direction to tell his story, where the camera is fixed and the script is branching. In his films, talk is scarce, and history is pushed to occupy the largest space, and silence is resounding. In his opinion, silence may be a source of fear or provocation, and may bring a feeling of unease, as it may inspire spiritual and poetic serenity in the soul, and sometimes it becomes in itself a weapon of resistance as well. (2)
After returning from his exile in America to “Nazareth”, his occupied land, he filmed “A Record of Disappearance”, basing his heroism on himself, with his friends and family. (3) His style was closer to a documentary cinema, without a plot or a natural development of events. Random, depressing scenes, the occupation strangling the city and the souls of its inhabitants, who are free and occupied at the same time.
As for his movie “Divine Hand”, it opens with Santa Claus carrying his gifts, and a group of boys follow him, before he stops at a high hill, and then we see a knife embedded in his chest. Critics say that the scene expresses “treachery at the most beautiful in [Palestine] by killing the legacy of innocence in the city without attaching great importance to revealing the identity of the killer.” (4)
This film talks about a love story that brought together a young man and a girl from two cities separated by a barrier. In the film, there are multiple scenes, such as a moment of silence imposed by a beautiful girl who crossed the barrier in front of astonished soldiers. It all happens at a slow pace and black comedy. The film was well received and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.
The director concludes his trilogy with “The Remaining Time” to follow the approach of the previous two films by presenting the story of the dispossession and displacement of the Palestinians over a period of more than sixty years, with the difference that here he talks about this starting in 1948 on the day when his hometown of Nazareth – officially – surrendered to the army Israeli occupation. Suleiman skillfully blends the personal and the political, as he used his parents’ memoirs as inspiration while writing the script, (5) and made the visual narration mimic the style of theatrical presentation.
In the movie “Salt of this Sea”, directed by the Palestinian poet and filmmaker “Anne-Marie Jacir”, the heroine “Soraya” returns from America to her occupied country after years of diaspora to search for her origins, then she is surprised that she, like many, does not have the right to return. She can’t stay where she belongs as a citizen, she’s only reduced to one word: “tourist”. The film is classified as a fiction and documentary, and opens with documentary clips in which Palestinian homes are razed. (6)
This is followed by a presentation of some of the occupation’s practices, its barriers, and its disregard for human dignity in the West Bank, and a depiction of the condition of a people whose dreams are stripped away and their ways narrowed. It is the Israeli policy of discrimination based on religious identities, and the semantic meanings that it presents appear in the film, events such as the British Palestinian Bank’s denial of the inheritance of “Suraya” from her grandfather who was deposited before the 1948 Nakba. The film revolves around generations who want to live, and realize that there is no way to do so Except not to submit and to waive their rights.
Because of her Arab features and pedigree, Soraya – despite her American passport – is subject to lengthy searches and interrogations, and questions are directed to her repeatedly. This cracks the dreamy fantasies that she carried all her life away from the homeland. Wherever it goes, it will face obstacles. In the Ramallah Bank, it will struggle to recover its grandfather’s money. Under an agreement with Israel, the money deposited in banks before the Nakba cannot be recovered. After that, Soraya decided to rob the bank with the help of “Imad”, a Palestinian young man she had recently met, who works as a waiter in a restaurant, and with them “Marwan” a friend of Imad. https://www.youtube.com/embed/1yMAWXLaEyA?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=ar&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
Emad, who keeps saying that life in this country is nothing but a big prison, is not only restricted by the Israelis, but also his dream of traveling to Canada and completing his studies. In the end, the friends flee to Jaffa, disguised as Jews, and as soon as they set foot on the side where the Israelis live, the lighting changes from dull colors to lively, blue with its gradations, and the vastness of space, freedom and the sea, in contrast to the Palestinian side, which is not without checkpoints, a wall and barriers .
The documentary aspect of the film can be summarized in presenting Ramallah, Jerusalem and Jaffa with their historical patterns. Jaffa (part of Tel Aviv now) with its conflict between an occupier willing to obliterate the past, and a Palestinian searching for his lost identity and stolen land. This appeared while Soraya went to her family’s house, which had become owned by a young Israeli woman, and the anger that suddenly overwhelmed her because she felt like a guest in her grandparents’ house. Soraya demands the young Israeli woman to admit that it is her home, before she is expelled. In their quarrel, Soraya used the English word “Home”, which means homeland, to refer to her grandfather’s house, while the Israeli young woman used the word “House”, which means house or home. (7)
Soraya’s attempts to stay home are thwarted time after time, her application for Palestinian travel is rejected, and her tourist visa is forfeited. In the end, she returns to the starting point, to the airport and the officers’ questions, but this time she defiantly insists that she is Palestinian, and, contrary to what the documents say, she has lived her whole life here.
In the same context, the heroine in the movie “Inch’Allah” is from abroad, but – unlike previous models – a foreigner. Canadian director Anais Bardot Lavalette presented her story from the point of view of a Canadian doctor named Chloe, who works in a women’s clinic in a refugee camp in the West Bank affiliated with the Red Crescent Society.The narration here revolves around a circular structure. In the first scene of the film, we see a woman whose features do not appear, but her dark hair distinguishes her, who visits an Israeli cafe, then asks the waiter for a cup of coffee, and an explosion sounds, to begin the story of “Chloe” who befriends two women, the first is a Jew and a soldier in The Israeli army, and the other, a Palestinian named “Rand”, whose husband was forcibly imprisoned for twenty-five years, and was refused permission to visit him.
With a hand-held camera, the director takes us to the edges of the epicenter of the conflict, like the scattered security checkpoints we must pass on and off. The events witness a turning point when the Israeli police vehicles crush a Gazan child who was playing with his peers in the camp in front of Chloe’s eyes, and later when the soldiers at the checkpoint refuse to allow Rand to cross in her labors despite the insistence of her brother and Chloe – her doctor – The latter is forced to deliver her on the way, which causes a difficult birth in which the woman loses her baby. A few days later, Rand dies in an explosion, leaving behind a few words: “I am not a wall, I am not a stone, we are going to meet my son with my head held high, my blood speaks for me. Hello to all my beloved, I will see you in heaven, God willing.”
With this, Chloe is left crying, the one whose eyes do not leave her eyes throughout the film, a look of astonishment, and despite the change in her view, she is still unable to take a serious side with one of the parties, despite witnessing the almost daily violence practiced by the occupation against defenseless civilians, and we, the viewers, remain unable to penetrate inside it.
Did “Rand” in the previous movie, at the height of her sad anger, carry out a martyrdom operation? What we know for sure is that the two young men “Saeed” and “Khaled” in the movie “Hani Asaad” released in 2005 resolved to do so, believing that this is the only way for equal resistance and deliverance from the occupation and drawing the world’s attention to the Palestinian cause and the transgressions of the Zionist occupation.
In the film, fragments of the lives of the two young men and their close relationship with their mother are presented. We feel the size of the void that will befall their families with their death, and we see their determination and their drift at one time, their reluctance at another time and the withdrawal of one of them tearfully and frightened at the end. The director was accused of giving these operations a humane character to gain social acceptance, yet he was nominated for an Oscar, and won awards such as the “Golden Globe” and the Berlin International Film Festival award.
In the Warner Bros. movie, starring actress and director Hiam Abbas, one of the film’s protagonists expresses anger that Israelis portray themselves as victims. In the scene in which one of them records a video clip of his family’s farewell, he repeats the conversation several times because there are speeches on the camera, during which his patriotic impulse and his toughness that reveals the fragile face of emotion collapse. This is the goal of the director, who avoids filming any violent event or explosion. It tells the hidden story behind the bombing, and the motives of the two heroes who refused to accept the unjust injustice inflicted on them and their society, to conclude that the resistance and its variations are in essence going against the direction of slavery.
The main feature of the previous films is the feeling of the heroes living in a prison. In the wonderful film 3000 Nights, we take an inside look at the prisons of the Israeli occupation. The film was built mainly around real experiences and interviews of former Palestinian detainees in Ramle prison in the eighties,(8) and was filmed in a real abandoned prison in Jordan.(9) In which the Palestinian director “May Masri” follows the ordeal of a young female detainee named “Layal”. (10)
In the dead of night, under a torrential rain, Layal, blindfolded and handcuffed with iron handcuffs, was taken to a detention center for Israeli and Palestinian prisoners. She was violently searched before being pushed into the Israeli women’s cell. Layal is a newly married teacher who has done nothing but pick up a boy in her car. Nevertheless, she would rather be impartially tried than take her husband’s advice, which is to testify that the boy she delivered threatened and forced her to.
The strength of the characters here lies in their ability to resist what is imposed on them by searching for places of beauty. Whenever the tyranny of ugliness intensifies, ugliness appears in such things as separation and discrimination between Palestinian and Israeli prisoners, and beauty appears in the close friendship that linked “Layal” and her Palestinian companions, and the strike they decided upon Hearing the outbreak of the war in Lebanon and the Sabra and Shatila massacre, despite the beatings, violence and solitary confinement.
The events of the film escalate with the killing of a female prisoner, and the prisoners’ revolution and resistance begin despite the brutality of their jailers. Finally, Mai Masri provides us with a handful of facts: since 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians have been detained in Israeli prisons, and in November 1983 the Palestine Liberation Organization succeeded in releasing 4,765 Palestinian and Lebanese detainees in exchange for 6 Israeli soldiers captured in southern Lebanon.
After that, a song whispered, whose poet we do not know until now, saying: “Oh, the darkness of the prison is overcast. We love the darkness.. Only after the night. The dawn of the night sublimates. “.