Ma'aloul Celebrates Its Destruction
Ma'aloul is a Palestinian village in Galilee. In 1948 it was destroyed by the Israeli armed forces and its inhabitants expelled either to Lebanon or to the neighbouring town of Nazareth. Ever since, the former inhabitants of Ma'aloul, allowed only to visit it once a year on the anniversary of Israel's independence, have developed a tradition of organizing a picnic on this day on the very site of their destroyed village.
Aqabat Jaber, Peace with no Return?
Having made Aqabat Jaber, Passing Through (1987) just before the first Intifada, Eyal Sivan returns to this refugee camp the day after the evacuation of the region by the Israeli army. A few kilometres from Jericho and built 50 years ago, Aqabat Jaber is today a refugee camp under Palestinian control. This film asks if peace between Israel and Palestine can be possible without the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homeland, which is now Israel.
The Partition Line
Since the beginning of the Second Intifada in October 2000, the bloodshed has not stopped in Palestine-Israel. Walls continue to be raised, barbed-wires laid down, new borders succeeding those already present in the collective unconscious of both peoples. What can cinema do before a situation so desperately devoid of hope? Sivan and Khleifi are making a film which resists the idea that the only thing Israelis and Palestinians can do together is fight wars until they are both driven to oblivion. Faced with the tragic torments shaking their societies, theirs is a sort of filmic act of faith. They believe that the only "realistic" solution rests in the prospect of a bi-national state where citizens share equal rights and duties for peaceful coexistence. Utopian? No. Both are convinced that the situation in the Middle East is an ideological/pathological construct made by men, which can therefore be unmade by them. Both aim to show that this is possible through their cameras, as they film the daily realities of men and women, of the young and old.
Born in Nazareth, Michel Khleifi has produced and directed five full-length features and seven documentaries for international release and broadcast. He is winner of several prestigious international awards including the International Critics' Award, Cannes 1987, and the Golden Concha, San Sebastian 1987, for Wedding in Galilee.
Eyal Sivan, filmmaker and Israeli dissident, produced his first film Aqabat Jaber, Passing Through about displaced Palestinian populations, winning the 1987 'CinČma du RČel Price' at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He also won the Adolf Grimm Gold prize in Germany for his film about the Eichmann case, The Specialist (1996-99). Sivan continues his pro Palestinian militancy and is currently working on a new auto-biographical cinema project dealing with issues of immigration, identity and borders.