TIME SUSPENDED [Uitgestelde Tijd]
an exhibition for Witte de With, Rotterdam, Kunsthall Bergen, Norway and Netwerk Galerij, Aalst
List of works in the exhibition:
(titles marked with an * will NOT be showing in Bergen)
Ici et ailleurs
Jean-Luc Godard & Anne-Marie Miéville
50 min., France, 1974
The French Central Committee for the Palestinian Revolution invited Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin (then known as the 'Dziga Vertov Group') to film the Palestinian refugee camps on the West Bank in the Gaza Strip, Hebron and Lebanon, which they did in February 1970. On their return to France they had a title for the film but no fixed form for it. Four years later, 'Jusqu'à la victoire' was re-named 'Ici et ailleurs'. This was the time span the film-maker granted himself to fully get to grips with the intricacies of the meanings of his own images. What initially started as a study on life in the camps ended up as a reflection on the influence of film in the writing of history. Godard and Miéville (who had subsequently replaced Gorin) interweave the past and the present, film and television, sound and image and confront a French family (here) with the Palestinian Fedayin (elsewhere).
imovie [one]: The Agony of Silence
12 min., Belgium, 2003
Els Opsomer created this video using amateur software iLife. It is a lyrical video letter for her friends, an introspective tale of her short visit to Palestine. The photos she took there (of which some are in the book TIME SUSPENDED) are subjected to a detailed investigation. Subtitles reveal the content of the letter, where she ponders on how you can keep your human dignity intact in an area where violence is the order of the day. The contemplative atmosphere is enhanced by the soundtrack by Stefaan Quix.
45 min., Belgium, 2004
In A.M./P.M. there are no human beings in sight. Photos of cosmopolitan cityscapes are systematically scanned and display views of office blocks, flats, dark corners, illuminated windows and skyscrapers. On a soundtrack you hear a woman's voice recounting her story and that of the world; about images of today, about a journey. Her monologue is a fictionalised version of the impressions that Asselberghs picked up during his trip to Palestine. He consciously chose for the film to show the explosive and mediatized situation in the region by taking an absolutely minimalist audiovisual approach. The fact that he creates an detached view by using a female voice instead of his own, coupled with deviating from a run-of-the-mill documentary style, produces a complex approach to his ideas and feelings on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The soundtrack was composed by David Shea, the artist Claude Wampler did the voice-over and the photographic images were taken by Els Opsomer.
6 min., Egypt/Palestine, 2004
For the last few years, most especially since the second Intifada broke out in 2001, the Rafah border has been the only way for people from the Gaza Strip to leave or enter the region. People travel via Cairo airport, men traveling alone separated from the other travelers, and under heightened Egyptian guard. All the travelers encounter each other in an open-air transit zone in Rafah, waiting for the moment when the Israelis will permit them transit to Gaza. This wait can last from a day to several weeks.
Even though it is forbidden to take photos in the transit zones between Egypt and Gaza, Taysir Batniji secretly photographed his journey to the Gaza Strip in 2004. The work Transit presents these images and reflects on the extremely difficult conditions under which Palestinians must travel.
Displayed on screens of own choice:
De Palestijnen (*)
Johan van der Keuken
45 min., The Netherlands, 1975
In 1975, on the eve of the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war, Johan van der Keuken travelled to South Lebanon at the request of the Dutch Palestine Committee. He filmed the rural folk who were under fire from both sides: bombarded by the Israeli army and under attack from the local feudal warlords. Van der Keuken showed the Palestinian conflict as a class struggle. He drew parallels with the class distinctions in European society which gave rise to National Socialism and anti Semitism and which, in the Arab world, have created an explosive element for the Palestinians, who are the new dispossessed. In 1975, Johan van der Keuken regarded the Palestinian struggle, aimed at returning to their own country, from the perspective of forming a Palestinian democracy in which Jews and Palestinians could live and work in harmony.
50 min., Israel, 1979
A House in Jerusalem
98 min., Israel, 1998
In 'House' dated 1979, and 'A House in Jerusalem' from 1998, Amos Gitai once again reveals his talent as an archeologist in time and space. In the first film we see interviews with construction workers as well as current and former occupants of a villa undergoing renovations in Jerusalem. The new owner is a Jewish Professor who has taken over the residence from a Palestinian Doctor who, without so much as a by your leave, was divested of ownership when the Jewish state was proclaimed. Twenty years down the line, Gitai returned to the same address to repeat the process. Since then the neighbourhood has changed and the house enlarged, and again we hear the comments of building workers and Jewish residents. The son of the original Palestinian owner keeps memories alive of the family home. The film-maker links microcosm to macrocosm and creates a component in which the complicated history of the site reflects the complicated history of the country. In short, he reveals that problems in one section of the territory mirror the problems of the entire territory.
La Mémoire Fertile (*)
99 min., Belgium / Palestine, 1980
This is the first film about Palestinians to be made by a Palestinian in his own country. The story about two women in a male-dominated political conflict is also the story of two generations. Farah Hatoum lives as a widow with her children and grandchildren, while Sahar Khalifeh works as a novelist on the West Bank. Despite their starkly different backgrounds, the mother and the intellectual are engaged in the same struggle for freedom and dignity.
Journal de campagne
83 min., Israël / Palestina, 1982
'Journal de campagne' covers a visit to the Occupied Territories before and after the war with Lebanon. Very little has changed since. Gitai filmed soldiers at check points, colonists on hillsides, young children throwing stones and choking on tear gas as well as Palestinian villages under curfew. In keeping with all his films, this road block movie homes in on the long and lateral traveling. By stark contrast to the restrictions on freedom of movement for both Palestinians and Israelis, Gitai's mind is continually in motion. In the words of the film-maker, "film helps us to understand that the world cannot be reduced into simplistic, two-dimensional images."
Aqabat-Jaber, Passing Through (*)
81 min., Israel / Palestine, 1987
Aqabat-Jaber, Peace With No Return (*)
61 min., Israel / Palestin, 1995
Aqabat-Jaber is one of the sixty Palestinian refugee camps that were set up by the United Nations in the early 1950s. With an estimated 65,000 inhabitants it was once the largest camp in the Middle East. When war broke out in 1967, about 95% of the population fled to the other side of the Jordan and the refugee camp, just three kilometres to the south of Jericho, turned into a ghost town. Eyal Sivan filmed the camp for the first time in 1987, just before the Intifada began. He tells how what started as a temporary solution ended up as a permanent way of life. He returned in 1995, on the day after the Israeli army had forced total evacuation of the areas surrounding the camp. Following the signing of the Oslo Agreements in 1993, the three thousand occupants in the camp officially became the responsibility of the Palestinian Authorities. Unfortunately, the occupants have not seen any changes. They remain refugees and they still cannot return to the villages from where their parents once fled.
Introduction to the End of an Argument (Speaking for Oneself
Jayce Salloum & Elia Suleiman
43 min., 1990
In this video, the Lebanese-Canadian film-maker Jayce Salloum and the Palestinian film-maker Elia Suleiman show us the distorted media reports that dominate about the Arab world and the Intifada. Clips from American, European and Israeli films are contrasted with their own footage and with news pictures from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Their close reading of the systematic media spin exposes the racist and ideological prejudices that westerners have been subjected to for years. The repetitive nature of this media orientalism seems, furthermore, to match what is a disturbing foreign policy.
Cantique des Pierres (*)
105 min., Belgium / Palestine, 1990
In his typical stylistic combination of documentary and fiction, Khleiffi tells the story of two Palestinians who fell in love in the 1960s. They meet each other again after a separation by force of circumstance of 18 years. He spent 16 years of his life in an Israeli prison cell, and she emigrated to the US. They meet each other again when the Intifada - an unequal struggle of stones against guns, of children against soldiers - is at its most intense. They both have to get used to each other again, but also to the new situation, hesitantly searching and putting out feelers in a still uncertain state of affairs.
Simone Bitton & Catherine Poitevin
47 min., France, 1993
While the first Gulf War was still raging, the French film critic Serge Daney wrote about the 'typical French/Arab Art of Conversation' and how he was no longer able to pick up this customary way of conversing with his Arab friends again. This film provides the right setting and he is in conversation with the Palestinian historian Elias Sanbar. Watching personal and mediatized images, they compare notes on the parallels and differences of their respective lives. For years the two writers have lived within walking distance from each other. Daney talks about the Parisian neighbourhood where his mother raised him. Sanbar, on the other hand, shows the only photo he has of himself as a child with his mother in the family home in Haifa. He was just one year old and peace was abruptly shattered in that very year by the events of 1948.
52 min., Palestine, 2001
While her friends and colleagues were busy covering the second Intifada and making news for the major TV networks, the Palestinian documentary maker Azza el-Hassan was filming the people in her street in Ramallah. She shows the impact the situation has on relationships that go back many years. Relationships between lovers, families and relatives, neighbours and friends. She follows the children on her own backyard, children from the refugee camps eager to protest. She takes an inward look to see how she deals with the reality at hand: through the cameo stories of the people around her, whether acquaintances or not.
Three Centimetres Less
60 min., Palestine, 2003
The World Health Organization called the micro-nutritional shortages of the Palestinian people 'hidden hunger'. It is the price they are paying for two years of Intifada, with high-security check points, restrictions and curfews. In the majority of cases the systematic undernourishment is invisible. But not when you look at statistics that show that nowadays children are three centimetres shorter than before the Intifada. In this video, Azza el-Hassan reveals the 'hidden hunger' for love and security by two extremely different Palestinian women. Hagar is a seventy-two year old housewife and something of a legend in Ramallah. Ra'eda is the daughter of one of the hijackers of a Sabena flight who was killed by the Israeli army in 1975.
FILMS by STAR 2000 / DAR FILMS
The Inner Tour
97 min., Israel/Palestine 2000
Live from Palestine
57 min., Palestine, 2001
27 min., Palestine, 2002
'A crazy country is a good place to experiment', says Raed Andoni. He is a film producer and runs Star 2000, the Palestinian production company in Ramallah. His West Bank passport puts him at the bottom of the ladder as far as freedom of movement is concerned, but places him at the top for inventiveness. The Star 2000 documentaries show small daily occurrences that make life and filming extremely problematic and which we will never get to see on mainstream news. In 'Live from Palestine', Rashid Mashawari reports on a radio station in Gaza during the latest Intifada. The film pays homage to journalists covering the Palestinian uprising, not the journalists working for major TV channels, but the ones on the radio whose effect is like a breath of air for the local residents. In 'Number Zero', Raed's brother Saed Andoni reports from his favourite barber's shop in Bethlehem that acts as a live news station during yet another incursion from the occupying army. 'The Inner Tour' is a report by the Israeli film-maker Ra'anan Alexandrowicz about a group of Palestinians who travel by bus through Israel. It is the only way many Palestinians can make a fleeting return to their country of old.