Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma and Memory

Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma and Memory

Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma and Memory

Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma and Memory

Synopsis

Although in recent years, the entire world has been increasingly concerned with the Middle East and Israeli-Palestinian relationship, there are few truly reliable sources of information regarding Palestinian society and culture, either concerning its relationship with Israeli society, its position between east and west or its stances in times of war and peace. One of the best sources for understanding Palestinian culture is its cinema which has devoted itself to serving the national struggle. Filmmakers have strived to delineate Palestinian history and to portray the daily life of Palestinians - men, women and children. As well as attempting to connect the past to the typically distressed present, Palestinian cinema has endeavored to suggest a future of national unity, revealing time and again how the longing for personal liberty clashes with the hardships of national existence. In this book, two scholars - an Israeli and a Palestinian - in a rare and welcome collaboration, follow the development of Palestinian cinema, commenting on its response to political and social transformations. They discover that the more the social, political and economic conditions worsen and chaos and pain prevail, the more Palestinian cinema becomes involved with the national struggle. As expected, Palestinian cinema has unfolded its national narrative against the Israeli narrative, which tried to silence it. The reflection of the Israeli in Palestinian cinema is one more harsh and painful testimony to the resentment and hostility between the two peoples, who share a common patch of earth and landscape. Key Features
• The first, serious comprehensive study of Palestinian film.
• A rare collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian scholars.
• A reliable insight into Palestinian society and culture, and the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.

Excerpt

“History has forgotten our people,” writes Yazid Sayigh (1998) about the Palestinians, while Emile Habibi, in his book The Six Day Sextet (1968a), presents the opposite position: “We are the people who have overlooked history.” Today, with the establishment of Palestinian nationality and its historical narrative in writings, art, and literature, both positions seem inaccurate. Yet, the notion that the post-1948 Palestinian historical narrative has thus far not been told in its entirety or, at least, that it has yet to find its full artistic expression, is still prevalent among writers and scholars. According to Anton Shammas, we can certainly find parts of this story in individual literary works such as The Pessoptimist (Habibi, 1974), Arabesque (Shammas, 1986), Returning to Haifa (Kanafani, 2000), and “Why Have You Abandoned the Horse?” What is missing, however, is the overall story: “the experience of being uprooted, the banishment and the crime, the absence” (Khouri, 1998).

Researchers tend to cite various causes that have led to this predicament. Some remark that “chunks of the Palestinian memory have been subjected to colonization by other types of discourse” (Nassar, 2002: 27–8) and have been silenced by the Israeli narrative (Manaa, 1999b; Said, 2000). Consequently, Palestinian history has been told from the viewpoint of the winning side. As Manaa would argue:

The Europeans followed by the Zionists – the powerful and triumphant
side in the national conflict over the Holy Land … generally ignored even
the mere existence of the indigenous people of the land and their right

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