There are existences, conflicts, situations and melancholy in this world so detached from us in the West that they only exist in charity adverts, tangled political webs, oddball and selective media reportage and distorted and distant opinions. This answers the question of why art is so important in the face of despair and/or warfare; the painting, poetry and arguably most influential, film that comes out of this is usually the only place where true humanity, honesty and identity are found.
The Israeli/Palestinian situation is one shrouded in sadness, silence, unbalanced opinion and for many, unfamiliarity. There is a voice missing from all arguments when this is usually discussed within the media, the voice of those who suffer the most, the everyday innocent Palestinian people who have no official twitter feed, no official defence, no official face but are just presented in facts in conflict or are completely forgotten when Gaza and the West Bank are quiet for the news.
When a society is contained in expression, art becomes essential and a pureness is created in its output. The late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish said ‘the creative Palestinian is prohibited from the luxury of vacated and dedicated time for the sake of creativity’, so when we look at the cinema of Palestine – there are no movies that are for the taste buds of audiences, but instead we find films that strive to capture and share a voice that is barley heard in the world.
Here are 5 films, 5 pieces of Palestinian art, 5 shouts of Palestinian expression that are essential to see a perspective of a people with no recognised voice and to see the power of cinema in conflict.
5) Wedding in Galilee (1987)
Dir. Michel Khlefifi
The first major Palestinian film to win acclaim at festivals in the late 80‘s and perhaps the first film from Palestine actually directed by someone with an inside perspective, a Palestinian Israeli in Michel Khlefifi. Picking up the International Critics Prize at Cannes in 87’, Wedding in Galilee is a naturalistic picture, bringing a true humanity to the daily struggle of Palestinian life.
We are placed in a Palestinian village where a strict curfew is implemented by the Israeli military, but the village leader wants to have a grand celebration for his sons wedding that would go past curfew. The Israeli commander after refusing, accepts the break of curfew but only if he and his troops are invited. The movie naturally captures the voice of struggle and glimmers of false liberation, but what’s most interesting about this film is that even though, its the men in charge, the real focus is on the Palestinian women.
Khlefifi uses the female characters to almost represent the different generations of Palestinian life, stripped of political ideologies but focused on the pure human impact of the situation. Wedding in Galilee is the first stamp of Palestinian cinema and its still as bold and relative as when it first emerged.