Film Programme will be followed by a talk with Omar Jabary Salamanca in discussion with Amira Hass
In the article “The Day After”, Eduard Said provided an immediate and very sombre reading of the Oslo Agreement signed in September 1993. He begins with the reading of the theatrics of the signing ceremony itself, and moves on to declare that the entire agreement is the suspension of most of Palestinians’ rights.
After 20 years of the signing, this suspension has created a confusing and distraught present in the lives of Palestinians. How can one dwell in the today and produce images that contain a potential for standing as historical reference? Images that feed on a point in history that acts as both beginning and end, and the resonance of this political rupture that we live today.
Suspended Times is a film programme comprised of nine short films. It is a ‘montage’ of impressions, reflections and products of imagination by nine filmmakers and artists. It is a montage of confined spaces, physical and mental; handshakes; journeys; sound, and time. The films look back at the 20 years that followed the signing of the Oslo Agreement. The programme lays out a spectrum of films representational on many levels. On one hand, they reflect the geographical dispersal and fragmentation of Palestinians by the various storylines presented in the films. On the other they reflect the diversity of consequences of the Agreement on the various aspects of Palestinians’ and Palestine’s being that followed it. And then there is the visual treatment employed by the filmmakers in the films. They vary in form and language, and they too are representational of visual languages that exist two decades after the signing of the Oslo Agreement.
The authors of the films are Alaa Al Ali, Arab and Tarzan Nasser, Amin Nayfeh, Asem Naser, Asma Ghanem, Ayman Azraq, Mahdi Fleifel, Muhannad Salahat and Yazan Khalili. The programme and the films were produced by Idioms Film in collaboration with Rosa Luxemburg Stifting- Regional Office Palestine and were selected as part of an open call in late summer 2013.
[dir. Tarzan and Arab Nasser | 8 min]
It’s his birthday. While waiting for her to arrive, he imagines the moment when he first sees her. What will her gift be? As he shifts between dream and reality he receives a visit from a strange old man.
Filmmakers and identical twin brothers Tarzan and Arab (real names Ahmed and Mohamed Abu Nasser), were born in 1988 in Gaza. After they both graduated from Al-Aqsa University with a BA degree in Fine Arts, the brothers began to develop their film works. In 2010, Tarzan and Arab received the A. M. Qattan Foundation’s prestigious Young Artist of the Year Award for their project “Gazawood”. With Rashid Abdelhamid, a Palestinian architect and designer, they co-founded the “Made in Palestine Project”, an independent artists’ initiative to create and promote contemporary visual art with a focus on Palestine. Their short film “Condom Lead” competed in the short film competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. They are currently developing a number of film projects.
[dir. Assem Nasser | 4 min]
Legend has it that a Roman woman used to run the largest brothel in the region on the site where today’s Moqata’a is. The Roman army commanders would meet there and discuss army matters. Eventually, the mistress and the women of the brothel learned all the army secrets. The Roman governor ordered the brothel to be destroyed and all the women were brutally killed. The legend goes on to say that for a long time shrieks and voices could be heard coming out of the site of the massacre. No one dared to go near it.
Assem Naser is a student of visual arts at the International Academy of Art – Palestine. Over the years he has worked as a photographer and graphic designer. His works begin from personal but universal questions, and challenge all that is sacred so as to reveal a small part of the truth, which mostly is grotesque. His works are often narrative, and deal with legends as mirrors of the unspoken reality. Visually, he juxtaposes the narrative with abstract images in order to place the audience within the world of legends.
[dir. Amin Nayfeh | 11 min]
In the midst of the Second Intifada, Malik is kept captive in his room by his family in order to study. To escape this oppression he finds comfort in two simple habits: listening to the radio and secretly observing his beautiful neighbour.
Amin Nayfeh was born in Palestine in 1988 and spent his formative years moving between Jordan and Palestine. Despite an early interest in filmmaking, in 2010 he earned his B.Sc. in Nursing from Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem. Two years later, he earned a degree in film producing from the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts in Jordan; he is determined to produce and create films that bring genuine stories from the region.
Journey of a Sofa
[dir. Alaa Al Ali | 9 min]
To transport a newly bought sofa to your home is an easy task. At least in most parts of the world. In a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, this task transforms itself into a Sisyphean journey, revealing the complexities and absurdities of everyday life in the Burj El Barajneh camp in Lebanon.
Alaa Al Ali is a writer, filmmaker and multimedia artist of Palestinian origin. He was born and lives in Shatila, a refugee camp in Lebanon. Al Ali has worked with local and international artists in making films and multimedia works, with a focus on the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon.
[dir. Yazan Khalili | 4 min]
He returned in 1994, with the first wave of PLO returnees that were allowed to come back after the signing of the Oslo Accords. He hadn’t been back since he left in 1968, when he fled to Jordan. He wrote me a letter that day, telling me how happy he was to return. He wrote how he had missed his city, the streets of his childhood, his family, his friends. He also wrote how angry he was to be checked by an Israeli soldier, to see an Israeli flag so close that he had to cover his eyes with his hands so he didn’t see it. He told me how sad he was to return with this half-won victory. His dream to return fulfilled, his dream for freedom postponed. Twenty years from that day, I’m leaving. I don’t want to stay in this half-dream. I want to leave his failed victory, this land that has been cursed with peace processes, with dreams blocked by checkpoints and frustration.
Born in Syria in 1981, Yazan Khalili is an architect, artist and cultural producer who works and lives inside and outside Palestine. His art practice explores the relationship between the social and spatial elements of the built environment and the greater landscape. He is a founding member of Zan Design Studio, established in 2005, and was an artist-in-residence at the Delfina Foundation, London, in 2008. Khalili’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, including Sharjah Biennial XI (2013); #ComeTogether, Edge of Arabia, London (2012); The Future of a Promise, Venice Biennale, Italy (2011); The Jerusalem Show, Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem (2010, 2011). His writings and photography have been published in print and online publications such as Class and Race, Manifesta Journal, Frieze and Ibraaz.
[dir. Asma Ghanem | 2 min]
“Long War” interprets the repetition of political speeches by a very simple process of the repetitive recording, replaying and re-recording of a short segment from an interview made with Yasser Arafat in 1991. As the image and sound slowly mutate, we arrive to the final point, the Oslo Accords.
Asma Ghanem, born and raised in Damascus (Syria), currently lives and works in Ramallah, Palestine. In 2013 she earned a BA degree in Visual Arts from the International Academy of Art – Palestine. In her work she explores that space between reality and illusion and its representation. Asma employs imagination to experiment with our perception of objects and concepts that surround us in our everyday life. She works with photography, sound and film.
Message to Obama
[dir. Muhannad Salahat | 7 min]
In a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, two boys decide to send a message to the American president Barak Obama through his Facebook page. They ask him, as the president of the United States, to intervene and end the siege on the Gaza Strip and they invite him and his wife to visit the Strip and witness people’s hardships there. But they never receive a response. They decide to use a small video camera to record a very angry video message addressed to Barak Obama from the people of the camp.
Muhannad Salahat is a Palestinian filmmaker, journalist and writer currently based in Stockholm, Sweden. Since 2011 he has been working as a freelance filmmaker in Stockholm where he works with a number of Swedish film and media companies. He has written scripts for a number of fiction and documentary films, and TV series. Salahat also works as a consultant for a number of media organisations in the Arab world.
[dir. Ayman Azraq | 6 min]
2013 brought the Oslo Agreement into the spotlight all over again. It brought me back to 20 years ago, when I had a dream, now lost. This dream haunts me again. I feel as if I’m sitting in a train station watching trains and people come and go. They all have a destination to reach as I wait for a train that might never arrive.
Ayman Azraq is a Palestinian artist and filmmaker, born and raised in Bethlehem. He earned his MA degree in Fine Arts from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in Oslo where he currently lives and works. Since 2002 he has worked as an editor, director and cameraman in multiple film projects. His short film “The Passport” was screened at the National Museum of Cinema in Turin (Italy), Cologne International Video Art Festival (Germany), among other places. His video and photography installation “You From Now On Are Not Yourself ” was screened in venues in Spain, Norway, Denmark and the Gaza Strip. In 2012 he was an artist in residency in UNIDEE – University of Ideas at the Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella (Italy), where he created “Lets Talk About Women and Football”, a performance collaboration between the locals of Biella and other artists in the residency.
Twenty Handshakes for Peace
[dir. Mahdi Fleifel | 3 min]
“I remember the handshake very clearly. My dad recorded the ceremony on video and would play it over and over again. He could not believe what had happened. In fact, none of us could. One time he threw his shoe at the TV and shouted so loud, the next door neighbours complained about him.” Listening to the last interview with Edward Said while watching the ceremony made me realize that father’s anger was because chairman Arafat was the first one to reach out his hand.
Mahdi Fleifel is a Danish filmmaker of Palestinian origin. Born in Dubai, he was raised in the Ain El-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon and later in the suburbs of Elsinore, Denmark. He began filmmaking at an early age, a hobby he picked up from his father’s obsession with video cameras. Fleifel studied at the NFTS (National Film and Television School) in England under directors Udayan Prasad, Ian Sellar and Stephen Frears. His first year film, “Arafat & I”, screened in many international festivals and won prizes in Romania, Italy and the Czech Republic. In 2010 Fleifel and Irish producer Patrick Campbell set up the London-based Nakba FilmWorks through which they released Fleifel’s autobiographical feature “A World Not Ours”. The film is currently on the festival circuit, and has received multiple awards in Brussels, Krakow, Reykjavik and Abu Dhabi, and the Peace Film Award at the Berlinale 2013.
Amira Hass is an Israeli journalist (Haaretz correspondent) who has been writing about the daily life in the Palestinian Territories for decades. She lives in the Territories and also has lived in Gaza for some time. Hass’ critical work forms a very important and welcome addition to the often non-critical way the Israeli media reports on the Occupied Territories. She has won many awards during her career, such as the Prize for Press Freedom of Reporters without Borders and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Women’s Media Foundation.
Omar Jabary Salamanca is concluding a doctoral dissertation at the Middle East and North Africa Research Group at Ghent University. His research lies at the intersection of urban studies, settler colonialism, political economy and Palestinian studies. He is interested in the geopolitics of aid and development, critical geography, politics of violence, and geographies of resistance and solidarity in the Middle East and beyond. Omar is a founder and active member of the program collective for the Eye on Palestine Arts and Film Festival. In 2014 he will join the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University as a Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow.