Recommended Film/Video Viewing
Each year, many new videos are debuted that reflect life in the Middle East – some are movies; some are documentaries. Various organizations take the time to review and choose some of the most compelling ones to highlight and show in their geographic locations. We are suggesting that you visit three of these sites to help you find videos you might wish to show to your own audiences.
For example, the following film was shown in the Witness Palestine Film Festival 2017 held in Rochester, NY:
Kareem leads an aimless life between odd jobs and hanging out with his buddies in a crime-ridden Arab ghetto of the mixed city of Lyd. A family tragedy brings him closer to his singer girlfriend, Manar, and motivates him to do something more with his life. When Kareem and his group finally get a chance to perform in a Tel Aviv hip-hop club, the star potential of the ‘first Arab rapper’ is quickly noticed. Although he raps “I’m not political,” Kareem and the group use music to express their tough life as Palestinian youth. But the road to success is never easy…. Kareem and his group must face violent nationalistic Jewish rappers, government-imposed gentrification and troubled drug-dealing friends. When Manar’s family threatens to harm them if she performs publicly with him, the time comes for Kareem to either surrender to conservative tradition or stand up for the woman he loves, the artist he respects….
Voices From the Holy Land – www.voicesfromtheholyland.org
The following documentary was one of those included in the 3rd Annual Voices From the Holy Land 2017 Film Series shown in Washington, DC:
Anna Baltzer, a Jewish-American Columbia graduate and Fulbright scholar, presents her discoveries as a volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service in the West Bank, documenting human rights abuses and supporting Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance to the Occupation. The film provides a viewpoint not often seen in Western media sources, and encourages dialog towards taking action on the issue. Topics discussed include checkpoints, settlements, Israeli activism, Zionism, 1948 War and refugees, censorship, the Wall, the ongoing annexation of Palestinian land, and the almost unbearable living conditions under the occupation.
The 7th annual film festival showed the following film in DC in October 2017:
Haunted by his own time behind bars, Palestinian director Raed Andoni recreated a notorious Israeli interrogation center — and has ex-prisoners re-enact experiences in a bid to set their demons free.
Andoni’s “Istiyad Ashbah” (Ghost Hunting) examines the rarely documented collective trauma suffered by former Palestinian prisoners.
“In Palestinian society, to survive detention and interrogation is like a rite of passage, you either come out a hero or you come out totally broken,” the celebrated Ramallah-based filmmaker told AFP. “And then people compare notes: How many days without sleep? How long in solitary?” the 45-year-old said.
Having been imprisoned himself in his youth, he said he remained “haunted by flashbacks” such as the sound of doors slamming shut and the feeling of a fabric bag being pulled over his head.
Shot over seven weeks in a hangar in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the film brings together around a dozen former detainees of all ages and backgrounds, who are asked to recreate the notorious Russian Compound jail in west Jerusalem from memory.
The participants rebuild the detention center in painstaking detail, from the size of their cells to the color of the tiles and even the pulley they say was used to lift inmates off the ground during what they described as torture sessions.
Slowly they bring the place of their nightmares back to life — and as the walls go up, the memories come bubbling back to the surface, forcing the men to confront their memories and breaking taboos in the process.
“I use everything I can in the film to help them dig into their subconscious,” Andoni said, explaining that he wanted to peel away layer after layer of repression to find “the ghost inside.”
For some of the ex-detainees it was too much and they walked away from the project. “I told everyone from the first day of shooting that you have the right to quit,” he said, adding that there were psychologists on set to provide emotional support.