Welcome to the Occupation: A Skeptical, Satirical New Comedy, Straight Outta Palestine

By Ali, Lorraine | Newsweek, December 23, 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Welcome to the Occupation: A Skeptical, Satirical New Comedy, Straight Outta Palestine


Ali, Lorraine, Newsweek


Byline: Lorraine Ali

In Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman's "Divine Intervention," a sexy Arab girl saunters through a military checkpoint like a supermodel down a catwalk, a sweating Santa is chased by knife-wielding kids and an apricot pit tossed carelessly out a car window blows an Israeli tank to smithereens. These bizarre, disturbing comic fantasies pepper the otherwise quietly oppressive life of E.S. (played by Suleiman himself), a Euro-suave Palestinian who lives an excruciating checkpoint away from his love in Ramallah, and way too close to his ailing father in Nazareth. This is one of the few feature films--let alone black comedies--to arise out of Arab Israel, and it goes where nightly news clips can't. It maneuvers through occupation and war (i.e., everyday life) with a cinematographer's eye, a satirist's wit and a secular Palestinian's skepticism, blurring the lines dividing pointed political drama, art-house abstraction and over-the-top sketch comedy.

"Divine Intervention's" impact extends far beyond Israel's disputed borders. It beat out "8 Mile" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" at the European Film Awards in the best non-European picture category and won big at the Cannes Film Festival. Though it won't be released in the United States until next month, it's already sparked great interest--and controversy. Some pro-Israeli groups want to have the film banned, and it's not eligible for a best- foreign-film Oscar because the motion- picture Academy does not recognize Palestine as a nation. Meanwhile its U.S. distributor, Avatar, decided to hold the film's release until 2003 so it would have time to protest the rules.

Suleiman, 42, is used to opposition by now. His first feature film, "Chronicle of a Disappearance," was booed at the Tunis film festival; its closing image showed the raising of an Israeli flag. "I was accused of being a collaborator, a Zionist, the usual nonsense," says Suleiman from his home in Paris. "Chronicle" was shunned by Arab critics; in Israel, it topped best-of lists. Now, Suleiman says, no Israeli exhibitor wants to show "Divine Intervention." He laughs. "That's the irony I always live under.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Welcome to the Occupation: A Skeptical, Satirical New Comedy, Straight Outta Palestine
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?