Tag Archives: palestinians

5 Broken Cameras – New Directors/New Films 2012


Watch the Film

Writer/Directors: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi

Music: Le Trio Joubran

Palestine/Israel/France, 2011

26 March 2012, Walter Reade Theater, NYC

“How do we deal with our anger? Something new.”

A first-hand record of resistance to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian town of Bil’in, seen through five cameras: the first exploded by an Israeli gas canister; the second smashed by Israeli settlers; the third pierced by an Israeli military bullet intended for the film-maker; the fourth demolished in a car crash into an Israeli barrier; the fifth destroyed by yet another Israeli bullet. The cameras witness Israeli settlers burning Palestinian olive trees, Israeli soldiers attacking Palestinian children, and the murder of a young Palestinian man defending an Israeli protester from her own government. An essential work.

Update: US Distributor – Kino Lorber (2012)

Al Juma Al Akheira – Berlinale Forum 2012


Al Juma Al Akheira | The Last Friday
Director: Yahya Alabdallah
Cast: Ali Suliman, Yasmine Al Masri, Taghreed Al Rusuq, Fadi Arida, Nadria Omran, Lara Salawa, Abdul Kareem Abu Zayad, Shadi Salah
Jordan, United Arab Emirates, 2011 (European Premiere)

Delphi Filmpalast, 12 February 2012

A middle-aged divorced father discovers that he needs to undergo an emergency operation for a twisted testicle, which he cannot afford. Having gambled away everything he earned as a successful care salesman in Amman, Yousef (Ali Suliman) lives alone in poverty, working as a taxi driver, stealing electricity from a neighbor to brew coffee and enduring his sleazy boss’s degradations and double-dealings with ironic stoicism.

Much is in motion on the eve of Yousef’s surgery. A Last Supper with Islamic background, where Friday has multiple meanings as holy day, protest day, strike day.

First, his teen-age son (Fadi Arida) comes to stay with him, hiding out from Yousef’s ex-wife (Yasmine Al Masri), now married to a powerful, invisible husband. Yousef discovers that his son is nearly illiterate, a habitual truant from his expensive private school.

On television and radio, we hear strange ideas about romance and love, where women have the upper hand, while Yousef has coffee on the veranda, playing solitaire backgammon, outside his pitifully empty bedroom.

The first Jordanian film screened at Berlinale, Al Juma Al Akheira first took form in Paris, where director-screenwriter Yahya Alabdallah studied at the International Film and Television School EICAR.

Working on a 100,000 euro budget, Alabdallah has turned in a well-written, well-acted, beautifully photographed film that casts a perceptive gaze on a society in crisis, with a focus on the drama and comedy of everyday life that will be recognizable to audiences worldwide.

Berlinale Section: Forum

Bagrut Lochamim – Berlinale Forum 2012


Bagrut Lochamim (Soldier/Citizen)
Director: Silvina Landsmann
Israel, 2012

Saturday February 11
Delphi Filmpalast (European Premiere)

Argentinia-born Silvina Landsmann served in the Israeli Army and studied film in Tel Aviv before moving to Paris. She heard from her brother about courses organized by the Israel Defense Forces for soldiers who had not completed their matriculation exams before being drafted, and decided to make a film.

The result is a fly-on-the-wall observation of a microcosm of Israeli society at a critical juncture, in 2006 at the end of the Lebanon war.

They enter their Civics classroom carrying their weapons and their prejudices. Before entering the program, the soldiers are warned by the commanding officer that “You will be among minorities and children” and that the program’s “success rate isn’t so good.”

The hero of the film, an amazing teacher, introduces concepts from the standard Israeli civics textbook, Being Citizens in Israel: “Tolerance,” “Pluralism,” “Human and Civil Rights.”

Trouble starts on the first day, when soldiers protest the term “Pluralism,” shouting the teacher down, saying “If you want to use that word, say it in Arabic.” For twenty minutes, we hear vile, belligerently racist comments about Palestinians that eventually expand to include Israeli “leftists”, such as their teacher, who support the human and civil rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

But we also begin to hear the soldiers’ grievances against the “penguins” – the ultra-orthodox who have descended upon Israel, enjoying full privileges of citizenship with virtually none of the responsibilities, most notably the universal requirement for military service.

As the film progresses, we realize this genius of a teacher has created a space for thought and expression, outside of the bounds of political correctness, where he can engage these young soldiers honestly and directly about fundamental human and civil rights.

One of the most fascinating discoveries of the film is that these Jewish soldiers seem to be completely ignorant of the rules of combat that emerged from the Nuremburg trials.

Since this film was shot, the clash between decent Israelis and the fanatical right wing has shot into the stratosphere. The attitudes of Landsmann’s soldiers may seem relatively tame in comparison to what observers encounter today.

We are left with pessimism about the future of Israel, modulated by profound gratitude to brilliant teachers who are committed to their students and their society.

Berlinale Section: Forum

Women Israeli Soldiers Talk about the Occupied Territories


Breaking the Silence: Women Soldiers’ Testimonies. Jerusalem: Breaking the Silence, 2009

A slim black book arrived in the mail, from Jerusalem. It sat in my pile for a couple of months. Then I started reading.

I knew, but I didn’t know. These descriptions of the reality in the Occupied Territories, from first-hand testimonies of women who served there since 2000, vividly capture the moral deterioration of soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces as they enforce the segregation of Arabs in Palestine.

“This book is a voice of protest of women saying: we are also part of this system and it is your obligation to listen to us, as you are the ones who sent us to serve in the territories.”

Seventy-five years ago, righteous European gentiles broke from groupthink and did the right thing. Today righteous Israelis are doing the same difficult work. Where would we be if even half of humanity could be so honest and brave?

“When you dehumanize someone it seems to you as if Hitler just walked into the war room.”

“I was in Hebron once and there was this stunning little blond girl, ‘***, the Little Demon (a Jewish girl from one of the Hebron settlements). She would pass us by near the outpost in her Shabbat dress, all neat and cute, and smiling. And then she saw some Arab walk by and she grabbed this huge rock and ran towards him, leapt and boom! She banged his head with it.”

“One of our goals was this: I made him cry in front of his child. I made him shit in his pants…. Especially at beatings, beating them to a pulp and threats and yelling, where the guy is terrified, especially in front of the kids. They would yell and threaten and terrify so you’re afraid for your kids too.”

Breaking the Silence: Women Soldiers’ Testimonies also sheds light on my country’s experience in Abu Ghraib, particularly on the role of women soldiers in the abuse and torture of prisoners.

“A female combat soldier needs to prove more,” one explains. “A female soldier who beats up others is a serious fighter…When I arrived there was another female [who] was there before me…Everyone spoke of how impressive she is because she humiliates Arabs without any problem. That was the indicator. You have to see her, the way she humiliates, the way she slaps them, wow, she really slapped that guy.”

A difficult and essential book. Visit the Breaking the Silence website for more information.