20th November - Cinema of the Palestinian Revolution + Screen Talk
6:10pm - institute of contemporary arts, the mall, st james’, sw1y 5ah
The Creative Interruptions project, of which the following restored films are a part, seeks to explore the way artists have used creativity to give voice to the oppressed.
Zahrat Al-Madain aka. The Flower of all Cities (dir. Ali Siam, 7 mins, 1969)
Produced as part of a cinematic magazine, “The Flower of all Cities” provides a rare example of the work of Palestinian photographer and cinematographer, Hani Jawharieh, (1939 – 1976) one of the founding fathers of Palestinian Cinema. Using the soundtrack, “The Flowers of all Cities”, a famous song by Fairouz, the film presents a harmonious picture of Palestinian civil life that is disturbed by the Israeli army’s occupation of the city following the 1967 war with Israel. Although essentially a propaganda film by the Jordanian Ministry of Culture, the film captures the essence of the period, the way in which Palestinians and Arabs viewed Jerusalem and their rage at its occupation by the Israeli army. Given recent events, the film continues to hold contemporary relevance.
Palestine in the Eye (dir. Mustafa Abu Ali, 28 mins, 1976)
“Palestine in the Eye” documents the loss of Hani Jawharieh for the PLO Media Unit. The profound impact of his death on Palestinian filmmakers is discussed in the film, which also documents the moment of his death, which he shot with his own camera. The film reflects on his life through interviews with family and members of the Film Unit. Although the film has later been attributed to Mustafa Abu Ali, the film unit’s method of work was to describe everyone as a collective of ‘workers’ and we see this in the film titles, which collectively lists the names of all those who participated as a non-hierarchical collective. Through its reflection on Jawharieh we are offered an understanding of the workings of the Palestine Film Unit and its international connections.
The Urgent Call of Palestine (dir. Ismail Shammout, 5 mins, 1973)
Ismail Shammout, director of the Cultural Arts Section of the PLO, while primarily known for his paintings also worked with the organisation’s Film Unit in the 1970s. In this short film, Shammout records a solidarity song by the Palestinian Egyptian singer Zeinab Shaath to announce the most urgent call of Palestine. The song and the words of Kamal Nasser that break through the ballad continue to hold striking relevance today. Lyrics by Lalitha Punjabi.
Glow of Memories (dir. Ismail Shammout, 12 mins, 1972)
Centring around an old Palestinian man who is the subject Shammout’s painting Memories and Fire. The film acts to unravel his memories using archival photographs and Shammout’s own painting to tell the story of Palestinian experience and resistance. By simply using a montage of visuals and sounds and avoiding narration, Shammout adopts a style that was used by early Soviet filmmakers who wished to communicate across language boundaries, creating a film that offered an non-verbal narrative of the Palestinian cause. The film was screened at a variety of festivals in the former Soviet Union and won a prize in 1973.
Palestinian Identity (dir. Kassem Hawal, 40 mins, 1984)
In the year 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon and occupied its capital Beirut. The film is a rare example of a PLO film made after their departure from Beirut. It documents the burnt and destroyed cultural and educational centres from which Israelis stole films, photographs, historical and contemporary manuscripts. It includes interviews with key members of the Palestinian cultural scene such as Mahmoud Darwish, Ismail Shammout and those in charge of cultural and educational centres such as Anni Khanafani to present a sophisticated intellectual understanding of why Israel focused on the destruction of Palestinian culture and represents Palestinian determination to flourish on an artistic level and resist the attempts at cultural genocide.