On the 20th November, Anandi Ramamurthy and Azza El-Hassan, hosted the screening of three newly uncovered Palestinian movies as part of the London Palestine Film Festival at the ICA. The screening attracted more than 150 audience members and has opened discussions around the ways in which settler colonialism erases the cultures of the colonised.
Below we link to two important articles that have reviewed our event at the ICA. The first is from Nathan Geyer for the Frieze website and the second is a discussion of Dr Anandi Ramamurthy and Rebecca Stead for MEMO, ahead of the screening at the London Palestine Film Festival.
In his article Nathan Geyer describes,
The devastating consequences of the Israeli invasion are recorded in Kassem Hawal’s film Palestinian Identity (1984), which captures the ruins of war-torn Beirut in the wake of the lost archive. Israel’s aggression in Lebanon caused the tragic destruction of more than 85 Palestinian schools and kindergartens, and significant institutions including the PLO Research Centre were razed to the ground. Hawal’s film unflinchingly accuses Israel of directly targeting Palestinian cultural institutions; the destruction of the Gaza Cultural Centre earlier this year bears witness to the ongoing threat to Palestinian identity today. Nathan Geyer for Frieze
The sentiment of both Palestinian Identity and Kings and Extras is neither pessimistic nor nostalgic; the films express defiance, the refusal to abandon collective memory ‘in spite of all’ to quote Georges Didi-Huberman. As part of the London Palestine Film Festival, Hawal’s Palestinian Identity was recently presented at the ICA alongside a number of films once thought lost or destroyed. Fourteen years after making Kings and Extras, El-Hassan made a new discovery; the original copy of Palestine in the Eye (dir. PLO Film Unit, 1976) had been stowed away in the family home of El-Hassan’s childhood friend Hiba, the daughter of Hani Jawharieh, one of the founders of the PLO Film Unit (later known as the PCI). This deeply affecting work is a tribute to Jawharieh, a devoted militant filmmaker and photographer who captured his dying moments on film whilst recording at the frontline, leaving behind a shrapnel-ridden camera. As El-Hassan’s graveyard search makes only too clear, violence has left an indelible mark upon the history of Palestinian cinema. Nathan Geyer for Frieze
And concludes by stating that,
These important visual testimonies of Palestinian resistance must continue to be shown and seen, restoring what was once lost to the new generation. Nathan Geyer for Frieze
More significantly, Anandi Ramamurthy during her interview with Rebecca Stead for MEMO, pointed to the ways in which colonialism interrupts the culture of the colonised:
Settler colonialism has often appropriated or destroyed the culture of those who have been colonised in order to assert the legitimacy of their own existence,” she explains, adding that: “By restoring the archival films we [in the Creative Interruptions team] are attempting to challenge some of the erasure of this culture and interrupt the attempts of the Zionist narrative to be dominant in how the situation in Palestine is understood. MEMO
As Rebecca Stead later adds,
This erasure of culture is far from an isolated incident, but rather forms part of the ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people. This is a notion explored by “Glow of Memories” – a 1973 film by Ismail Shammout – which forms part of the “Cinema of the Palestinian Revolution” series. “Glow of Memories” combines Shammout’s iconic artwork – consisting of vibrantly-coloured, romantic scenes depicting rural Palestinian life – with archival footage of key points in Palestinian history, from the riots of 1929 and the 1936 Great Revolt to the Partition Plan of 1947 and the Nakba that followed. Soft hues of gold and green turn to blood red and foreboding grey, as Palestinian women who once danced in traditionally-embroidered thobes now weep for their loved ones. MEMO
The article concludes with Dr Anandi Ramamurthy’s reflections:
In challenging the destruction of Palestinian culture, Anandi hopes the films will “give back to Palestinians and an international audience a knowledge of Palestinian film history”.
“Film might not produce massive social change,” Anandi concludes, “but in a sense it can offer a trigger for that social change.” MEMO