Saturday, May 24, 2008

Crossing the borders : movies and music from Palestine

The Salt of this Land, a Palestinian movie, will be presented at the International film festival in Cannes (France). The film is about Emad, a young Palestian who tries desesparately to live in homeland, and Soraya, a third generation emigrant to the states travelling to her parents’ country looking for her roots.

A story which has something to do with the film maker’s one, Annemarie Jacir (آن ماري جاسر), born in Nazareth, raised in Saudi Arabia then in the USA. Since a few years, she lives now in the Occupied Territories or, better, she used to live as the Israeli authorites did not allow her to come back to her home in Ramallah, in spite of her American passport (something which helps usually).

Thus, the movie was finished not in Palestine but in… Marseille (south of France). Anyhow, Annemarie Jacir remains happy with that: with her movie, she will be able to express her ideas about the most sensitive issue, that of the right for the Palestinians to return to their homeland.

Rim Banna’s story, a singer from Nazareth, is about the same issue: how a Palestinian (artist) could make his/her voice heard across borders?

Since her beginning in the mid 80’s, Rim Banna has become a leading figure of the new Arab song which mixes traditional pieces with modern music and rythms. But, having an Israeli passport, she has more opportunities to meet her audience in the western countries than in the Arab ones.

For instance, she was invited some months ago to give a show in Damascus but she never got her visa to leave. Thus she decided to have a “virtual show” with her fans listening to her in an Internet coffee shop in Damascus, something she did also with for the Jordan, Lebanaese and Gazawis audiences.

To be fair, the Israelis authorities are not the only ones which make her travels to Arab countries almost impossible. Even if there are agreements between Israel and some Arab governments, the boycott issue, a difficult and painful one LINK, adds to the difficulties.

Nonetheless, Rim Banna was happy enough to meet some days ago her Arab audience, for the very first time, in Abu Dhabi. She had brought with her a little stone, taken from the ruins of a church in Saffuriyyeh, a little village close to Nazareth where it is said that Jesus’s mother was born.

It remains almost nothing of that village whose inhabitants live now in Nazareth or even in the Palestinian camp of Ain Heloue (Lebanon).

Is has been destroyed by the Israeli forces during the war.

Just 60 years ago.

Links to some videos and articles with the original post, in French.

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