52 *Arab Shorts 2009 : yazan khalili

Arab Shorts 2009
Goethe Institute - Cairo
Co-curated with Lara Khaldi

Independent film in Palestine, check the website here

We would like to begin by “measuring the distance” to where we stand in relation to the programme we “present. ”We have been invited to present/represent Palestinian films by Palestinian filmmakers through a programme, and this leads us to a series of questions about the meanings of representation.

The act of representation is somehow an act of constructing and reconstructing; it carries with it a form of repetition, a redefinition and the making/imagining of an image. But it also carries with it a political tone, in the sense of giving the right “to stand in” the place of others. We do not represent Palestinian films; Palestinian filmmakers do not represent Palestine or Palestinians. Rather, we think that – we/they – could present maps of representations, in a plural but not in an exclusive and collective sense. Our selection showcases films that question and negotiate representation and structures of power that inform the production of images and notions about Palestinians.

These films have an element of self-reflection, and criticism of the socio-political borders that make up the category of “Palestinian”, but most importantly, they are films that are constantly conscious of being representations.

The focus on the autobiographical in recent years in Palestinian cinema and art could be read as an attempt to remake an image not only in relation to the influence that media holds on it, but as a repositioning, a distancing that produces difference, and an exploration into how to “represent” or – even to go further – how not to represent. Through those short films we pose questions about space, and about how we construct our own maps.

The frames in which these films are taken are all decided, the landscape/map is constructed, it is conscious. They somehow retrace their own maps; reconstruct their own identities. Our question stems from a larger project in which we started thinking about mapping Palestinian cinema. We tried to do it spatially, chronologically, by genre… But in the end we have decided to leave this question for the films themselves. We chose films that attempt to recreate themselves, filmmakers that are constantly conscious and constantly correcting themselves and comparing themselves against an imagined landscape. They measure distances; they shoot against their wishes, dive, and dig deep, retracing maps and landscapes.

The Diver - Jumana Emil Aboud
The Shooter - Ihab Jadallah
Arafat and I - Mahdi Fliefel
Like Twenty Impossibles - AnneMarie Jacir
The Last Station - Ghada Al-Terawi
We begin by Measuring the Distance - Basma Al-Sharif