If ever you happen to be in Patras (Greece) on Sunday, Oct 4th, for the International Film Festival don’t miss the screening of the film Welcome to Hebron. If, like i guess most of the readers, you can’t make it to Patras, you can also catch the film in Montpellier at the end of the month or in Stockholm and in Kassel in November.
Two weeks ago Welcome to Hebron won a prize at the Cinefest Daazo Competition in Hungary. I saw it recently in London. The film was part of Goshka Macuga‘s exhibition The Nature of the Beast at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. You know how visitors typically spend a few minutes to watch videos in art exhibitions? This time, everyone was glued to their chair.
At the center of the story, there’s 17-year old Leila Sarsour, a student at the Al-Qurtuba-school, a Palestinian girl school surrounded by Israeli military installations and Israeli settlements (which are considered illegal under international law.) This peculiar location means that the school girls and their teachers are the ideal target for stone, garbage and egg-throwing. As a former commander of the Israel army, who has served 14 months in Hebron explains “When you see a Palestinian, you throw a rock.” He adds that it’s part of the education as children under twelve cannot be prosecuted.
One of the most striking thing about Hebron is that it must have been such a lively, pleasant and pretty city. Nowadays, security nets are covering streets in order to protect Palestinians walking in the street from stones and other objects thrown down at them, other streets seem to belong to a ghost town, many businesses have closed, families have gone and those who have stayed have replaced windows by a tough metal web.
Leila is never bitter, nor would she allow you to see her as a victim. Even if the walls of her city are covered with graffiti that say “Slaughter the Arabs” and “Gas the Arabs”. Even if the soldiers put barbed wire in her mother’s garden to prevent her from picking up the apricots and olives from her trees. Surrounded by check-points, fences, the gaze of Israeli soldiers and the constant threat of being attacked and insulted by settlers, she still believes it is possible to coexist peacefully in the city.
Trailer of the movie:
Terje Carlsson‘s upcoming movie sounds very promising. It will be called Israel vs Israel and will give a voice to the truly brave Israelis.