As the world’s consideration was captured by the information of Israel planning to “annex” but a bit extra of Palestine and add it to what they’ve already stolen, I obtained an electronic mail from Nizar Hassan, the pre-eminent Palestinian documentary filmmaker. He wrote to me about his newest movie, My Grandfather’s Path, and included a hyperlink to the director’s reduce. It was a blessing.
They say select your enemies fastidiously for you’ll find yourself like them. The similar goes for these opposing Zionist settler colonialists. If you’re too incensed and angered by their day by day dose of claptrap, the vulgarity of their armed theft of Palestine, you’ll quickly change into like them and neglect your self and what stunning concepts, beliefs, and aspirations as soon as animated your highest goals. Never fall into that entice.
For many years, points of Palestinian and world cinema, artwork, poetry, fiction, and drama have achieved for me exactly that: saved me from that entice. They have continually jogged my memory what all our politics are about – a second of poetic salvation from all of it. Nizar Hassan’s new documentary is one such work – in a second of dejection over Israel’s encroachment on Palestinian rights and the world’s complicity, it has put Palestine in perspective.
The movie is mercifully lengthy, fantastically paced and affected person, a masterfully crafted murals – a Palestinian’s epic ode to his homeland. A shorter model of My Grandfather’s Path has been broadcast on Al Jazeera Arabic in three elements, however it have to be seen in its entirety, in a single go. It is a pilgrimage that should not be interrupted.
A affected person filmmaker
Nizar Hassan was born in 1960 and raised within the village of Mashad, near Nazareth, the place he has lived along with his household. He studied anthropology at Haifa University and after graduating labored in TV.
Starting in 1990, he turned to cinema. In 1994, he produced Independence, through which he pokes his Palestinian interlocutors about what they consider the weird Israeli notion of their “independence”. They have stolen one other folks’s homeland and name the act “independence”! Hassan dwells on that absurdity.
In his subsequent movie, Jasmine (1996), Hassan engaged Palestinians on the query of gender relations in Palestinian society within the aftermath of a homicide of a Palestinian lady by her brother.
Seven years later, Hassan directed the highly effective movie Invasion (often known as 13 Days in Jenin Camp, 2003) shot quickly after the Jenin bloodbath of 2002, through which the Israeli military bulldozed by means of a refugee camp, killing scores of Palestinians. The movie goes past merely documenting the horror of the occasions in Jenin to confront its perpetrators. It follows the narrative of an Israeli bulldozer driver who took half within the carnage and his reactions as he watches footage of the destruction and struggling of Palestinians he precipitated.
Apart from these movies, Hassan’s physique of labor spans plenty of different movies documenting points of Palestinians’ lives below Israeli occupation: Myth (1998), Cut (2000), Challenge (2002), Abu Khalil Grove (2006), South (2008).
Hassan has been featured in movie festivals within the Arab world, Europe, and North America. I’ve included his works in movie festivals I’ve helped organise within the US, Argentina and Palestine. In the wealthy and diversified archive of Palestinian cinema, Hassan is a serious determine with a severe physique of labor.
Remembering a Palestinian grandfather
So I knew Hassan’s documentary filmmaking fairly properly after I sat to observe his most up-to-date work. But the ability of the brand new movie is one thing completely completely different. It will not be provocative, combative, or argumentative – fairly the opposite.
My Grandfather’s Path comes from such a deep and rooted confidence in a person’s sense of his personal homeland, it’s as if the entire world, not simply “Israel”, disappears, because the middle-aged director strolling with a backpack turns into the epicentre of the movie’s universe.
With a decided stride alongside his grandfather’s path, his reassuring voiceover, and his two-person crew following him, Hassan reclaims the magnificent panorama of Palestine as if there have been no Zionist undertaking interrupting that peaceable dream his movie interprets.
Watching the movie, I used to be reminded of the poetic peace and confidence of Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri in one among his signature poems, Mosafer (Traveller), the place he alludes to his journey in Palestine:
Oh, all you olive timber of Palestine:
Address all of the abundance of your shades to me:
To this lonesome traveller
Having simply returned
From the neighborhood of Mount Sinai
The warmth of the Divine Word –
To ensure, Hassan has informed this story otherwise earlier than. In his Abou Khalil Grove, he follows the destiny of a Palestinian household from the Ottoman interval to the emergence of Israel. In the identical vein, in My Grandfather’s Path, the palpable story is tracing the filmmaker’s personal roots in his homeland approach earlier than the arrival of Zionism on the colonial map of the area.
But what we see on this movie is far more than simply this goal historical past. We are within the presence of a grasp filmmaker in full command of his craft. In a masterstroke, which within the director’s personal daring and good reduce runs for greater than three and a half hours, he undoes Zionism with poise, endurance, a backpack, and a saintly solace.
My Grandfather’s Path is a stroll by means of the bodily and temporal panorama of Palestine by one solitary Palestinian within the firm of a sound engineer and a cinematographer. He crosses paths with a couple of buddies, however fixed stay the voice and vista of Nizar Hassan himself and his backpack, strolling his homeland inch by inch whereas telling us the story of his grandfather.
The movie is an epic narrative, quietly extra eloquent than the proudest of Mahmoud Darwish’s epic poetry. Hassan right here now not feels compelled to show something. He has bypassed Israel and delivered to the world an ode to the rooted magnificence and proud longevity of his homeland.
The self-defeating undertaking of Zionism
Watching Hassan’s movie because the Palestinians’ continued dispossession unfolds apace, a peculiar fact comes ahead.
Palestinians would not have the army would possibly to combat for each inch of their homeland, however they’ve one thing extra highly effective than machine weapons, tanks and fighter jets or the occupied territories of US politics. They have one thing far stronger than all these nefarious forces put collectively: They thrive within the energy of their storytelling, and they’re stuffed with tales – humane, actual, worldly, truthful, enduring, awe-inspiring.
In impact, we’ve two parallel tracks which have traditionally unfolded for the world to see: one – the continued colonisation of the whole thing of Palestine by a European settler colony, and the opposite – Palestinian artists, poets, novelists, and filmmakers like Hassan overriding and dismantling that undertaking of colonial thievery.
Israelis have thrived on stealing inch after inch of Palestine and incorporating it into their settler-colonial garrison state. But inside their garrisons and their captured creativeness, they’ve Palestinians telling themselves and the world their tales. Israelis don’t have any tales to inform, besides the abuse of the Biblical texts to justify their unique domination over Palestine; they’re left with the bare brutality of the Zionist undertaking.
Against that brutal historical past of disposition, all a Palestinian has to do is to pack a backpack, seize maintain of a digital camera and a sound recorder and begin strolling and speaking about his or her grandfather or grandmother. That is all. In the face of those tales, Zionism, with all its army would possibly and large propaganda equipment, disappears into oblivion – as if it by no means occurred, as if it’s not occurring.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.