Palestinian movies: a different experience

From yesterday to this evening, I’ve watched 2 documentary films about Palestine, or more precisely: about the palestinian people and their cause.
The two documentaries succeeded in viewing the conflict in occupied Palestine from a humanistic perspective. Something that brings a lump to your throat, and makes you realize that the palestinians are no super creatures living on patriotic mottos, they are nomal people, like us, who want to practice their most basic right: Life.
The first documentary, Goals & Dreams, sheds light on the Palestinian diaspora national team, if I may call it so. Young men, all have from a palestinian origin, come from different countries to play for the play for the Palestinian national team, preparing for their upcoming big match, in the road to World Cup.
The film shows how hard it was for them to get all the players to Cairo, where the training camp took place. Players who live in Gaza were not allowed to cross Rafah border, and they were returned from where they came several times, after hours of waiting, before they were finally allowed to join the team in Cairo.
Then it shows how the coach tried to get FIFA to postpone the game; because there were not enough players, but they refused, saying that they don’t want to get involved in political matters. Sadly, sports and politics were insaperable in that case, whatever they said to justify their position.
It also highlights the difficulties of communication between the players; being a mix of English, Arabic and Spanish speaking people. It was not only about the language, but also about the cultural differences between them.
One of the players, a Palestinian-American, said at the beginning of the movie that he had no problem being an American and a Palestinian at the same time. However, after having that trying experience with the Palestinian National Team, he said that he didn’t feel the harmony he used to feel between his two identities, and that he then felt more Palestinian than ever.
In another scene, they show a stand-up comedian who seems to be a Palestinian-American, who says: “They ask me: where are you from? and when I say Palestine they go like: Pagastine? What’s Pagastine? Where’s that? I say: No! it’s not Pagastine it’s Palestine, you don’t know it because we are technically a part of Israel… so they say: Isreal, Ah! so you’re Jewish! I say: No! I’m not Jewish, I’m Plaestinain! We are the ones who do bombings, how many places do we have to bomb before you start to recognise us as people!
What’s so special about the film is that it showed no blood, no destruction, but yet managed to convey a very strong message: Those people are living under unbearable circumstances.
Moving to the second movie, Arna’s Children, the tone changes 180 degrees. A movie that makes you smile, and even laugh for a moment, and makes you choke with tears the next. It’s about an Israeli woman, Arna, who gets married to a Palestinian man, and then devotes her life to support the Palestinian cause.
First,, they show some Palestinian kids, normal kids with ambitions and dreams for the future. Then, it shocks you when they show you what happened to them after some years. Four of them were killed by the Israeli occupation forces.
Ashraf was a very talented kid. He loved theater. He said that he’d like to be the Palestinian Romeo, and when they asked him who would his Juliet be, He said: wa7deh men el mokhayyam, qarabetna (A girl from the refuge camp, a relative of mine) His answer was so innocent that it made us laugh for a moment, but that laughter was soon interrupted by the next scene, in which Ashraf was wrapped in white sheets, smeared with his blood.
A mesmerizing movie that shows how, even some Israelis, who choose to see the reality as it should be seen, turn
agaisnt their government for its brutal and descriminating acts against the Palestinians.
But, the more important point I could see is that how the atrocities of the occupation turn the Palestinian people from ordinary citizens into militants. Normal people who, after facing the unimaginable from the occupation forces, decided that the best thing they could do than joining the armed conflict against the occupation. I know many people would argue about how Palestinians are terrorists and some such crap, but the point is: Who started it all? Before you jugde someone for carrying out a boming, you have to first put yourself in his shoes, and picture yourself carrying a 10 year-old bleeding, lifeless girl.
One of the things that stuck in my head is something Arna said at the beginning: There’s no peace without freedom. No peace without freedom.
Both films stressed a very important idea: You have a just cause. It makes you believe that hoever small the contribution, you can do something. It makes you realize how grave the situation is, and how hard it’s getting everyday for the people who are living it.
Here’s Arna’ chilren…

Originally posted on Saturday, December 02, 2006 on

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