Interviewers: Anat Even and Liat Sabine ben Shoshan
Translated by Tal Haran

Michel Khleife was born in Nazareth during the Israeli military government.[1] In 1970 he left the country and went to Belgium, studied theatre and film, and to this day he lives, teaches and creates there. We met him when he came for a festive screening of his films at the ‘Left Bank’ club in Tel Aviv during the Nakba Film Festival organized by the association ‘Zochrot’ [Hebrew for ‘remembering’ in the feminine plural voice], this past January this. The interview continued in Brussels.

Michel Khelifi makes hybrid films. In his feature films he uses reality materials, and his documentary films contain directed, feature dimensions. The choice to interview Michel Khleifi for an issue dealing with documentary film and architecture was made because his films create a space of observation and understanding of the architectural, urban and landscape elements of Palestinian society that were destroyed in 1948 along with its social and cultural foundations, during the founding process of the State of Israel.

First of all, Khleifi wishes to enable us to observe that which existed here – get to know it, study and understand it in the hope that we shall then be able to love. He wishes to create this space of observation for us Jews and Arabs – us being shared – including Khleife himself, as we all are now living on top of rubble and our vision is lacking. Processes of modernization and industrialization have almost totally changed the environment in which we live in the twenty-first century, but the return to the sites of destruction, and the reconstruction of past landscapes through film, longing to enable observation and vision – are all an act that resists practices of separation and concealment, socio-spatial and cultural, in the belief that one’s gaze might still be restored.

Fertile Memory (1980) was Khleifi’s first film made in Israel. This is an essay-film about the lives of two women. George Khleifi and Nurit Gertz state this film opened a new era in Palestinian cinema, being the first to deal with private lives, not necessarily in the Palestinian struggle in its conventional sense, and focusing on women, not on fighting men.[2] Khleifi’s choice places him as a trailblazer and feminist creative artist, brave enough to see and show the profound problems of Palestinian society even within the national struggle. Rumia Badi’a, a conservative woman living in the village of Yaffi’a (Yafa of the Galilee), controls her home assertively but is landless, since her husband had undergone medical treatment in Lebanon in 1948 and passed away shortly afterwards, leaving her with two children and nearly no property. Rumia must go work in a factory. Sahar Khleife is a divorced, feminist writer living in Ramallah with her two daughters – a modern woman. Khleifi films the women in their domestic space going through their everyday actions, as they tell their story in the background. The camera creates a time-space of observation and thought in the life and landscape of which they are a part. The windows through which the women watch their surroundings connect the symbolic and the physical, the reflective and the experienced moment, the large movement of time in the everyday picture.

In his film Ma’loul Celebrates Its Destruction, made in 1985, Khleifi films in the village of Ma’loul, the remains of which are close to Nahalal [Israeli village]. He films the people who are allowed to return to their village once a year, on Israeli Independence Day. A large wall painting of the village prior to 1948 is shown in the present home of one of the villagers. When Khleifi interviews the inhabitant what used to be Ma’loul, the painting serves as an orientation map of the village, and the painted houses constitute visual points of reference embodying the verbal description of what had been. Making the village present once again and rebuilding it by connecting the painting to the villagers’ stories in the film led to renewed construction – a group of villagers restored the village church. The restored ancient building serves as a meeting place for the expelled villagers and their descendants.

In his film Wedding in Galilee (1987), the Arab village home is the significant site. This is a rural stone house with arched windows and niches for storing house utensils and food stuffs, and is divided between the public ground floor opening onto an inner courtyard where a whole world exists and the wedding itself takes place, and the second floor reached by a staircase – containing the private, feminine space where the bride’s preparation rituals take place.[3] As in other films, here too, Khleifi did not wish to film a single Arab house, but rather constructed the cinematic house with photographs of several different houses. Khleifi’s cinematic house in Wedding in Galilee is an immanent space of tradition and ceremony. The wedding ceremony constitutes the center of the film, and indeed, the film represents local traditions of Palestinian weddings. But it is also a space in crisis – stressing the presence of the regional military governor, the personage who demanded to come as a guest of honor in order for the ceremony to take place. At the same time, the gender and spatial as well as functional division in the house are all contested. Tradition with all its beauty and glory, patriarchy as well as occupation are all shaken when the men and women violate conventional modes of behavior.

Khleifi and Gertz claim that Michel Khleifi’s films represent the Palestinian site as an imaginary one that revives the past, drawing upon the pre-traumatic era, and thus builds national unity – which in turn constructs a symbol of the idyllic home and fatherland created from within a state of exile. On the other hand, they claim, the abstract place is created as a concrete one, familiar, a place of longing wherein everyday life takes place here and now.[4] Windows, porches and stairs leading up to a house, both the rural and the urban Arab house, serve as means for constituting this place in Khleifi’s films. The house windows, yards and women filmed there express a state that is between in- and outside, on the threshold, a part of the traditional place but at the same time, longing for a different open space. The state of women expresses the state of Palestinian public space, which some claim is non-existent.[5]

The political situation imposes closedness, limitations and detachment of Palestinian public space. But the cultural and religious norms in Arab society, too, impose gender segregation in the public space, and intensify its limitations and inner separation. Women in windows, on porches and at house entrances are caught in mid-space physically and symbolically. They resist the limitations imposed upon them by family and society, in addition to those posed by the Israeli occupation. This is the situation of many women in Palestinian society that has been undergoing escalated processes of modernization, but preserves a powerful patriarchal structure. This is also the story of Khleifi himself, living between places and cultures, and whose films are based on the combining of cultures. Translating Khleifi’s work into architectural terms, Khleifi does not wish to recreate the ‘original’ and ‘authentic’ site, but to combine ‘sources’ in order to buile it anew.

This issue is published some weeks after the Haaretz Weekend Supplement publicized the fact that documents recording events of massacre, looting and expulsion in 1948 have disappeared from state archives by a special organization created especially for this purpose in the Ministry of Defense early in the past decade. Against these processes, the need to observe and show what has been and disappeared becomes a necessary obsession.

Let us begin from the beginning, how did you end up making films?

When I was growing up under the Israeli military government (1948-1966), Nazareth was one large ghetto, and I grew up in this ghetto. I saw mainly popular-commercial films. Even in commercial cinema, Wild West films for example, I would identify with the oppressed. The moment I began to understand the meaning of cinema came when I saw the film America America by Elia Kazan (1963), at a movie house in Nazareth. This was also the first time I realized there is more to cinema than popular films. It was a shock: Can all this be done? How? Why? The film shows a Greek family living in Anatolia under Turkish occupation. The eldest son dreams about America. When the massacre of Armenians and Christians breaks out, he goes to Istanbul. He is sent there with the family’s money and loses it all. In Istanbul there is an uncle who wants him to marry his daughter, and he finally emigrates to the US and brings his family there. This happened years after my sister’s wedding. The film shows scenes of a wedding that was very similar to my sister’s, and I saw intimate things there that spoke to me, which I had felt myself in my sister’s wedding about my own reality and my family’s. I felt as though the film camera was actually inside me.

Ever since the 1970s you have been living in Belgium. What were the circumstances of your leaving the country?

When I left this country in the late 1970s, days before I turned 20, I didn’t know I would be studying film. I told my parents I was going to Germany to work for Volkswagen. I arrived at Brussels following a relative of mine who was there. He came for a visit in Nazareth and saw me studying German. He asked why I was doing that, and I told him I wished to move to Germany. He said he used to be in Germany and in France, and now he was in Belgium and was happy there. He suggested I come, and that he would help me get to Germany. I only had money for a one-way flight ticket, and 200 dollars. I went. He said he had work for me, in carpentry. “Come, work with me for a while”. I began to work with him. We lived 30 km. from Brussels. He was studying in Brussels and working. One day we were to meet at the train station. This was in 1971, 3 years after the students’ revolt of 1968. When I got to the station, I found myself in a demonstration. Later I realized this was a demonstration against one of the first anti-alien laws. I didn’t even know French yet, and I saw the police attacking them, so I ran. Like here, I tried not to be… I ran. I don’t even know why. Eventually I found myself with a group of youngsters who realized I was undocumented, and they went with me to the Ministry of Interior to get papers.

At the Ministry I was asked what I wanted to study, in order to issue me a student visa. When I realized that theatre studies don’t require matriculation – I said I wanted to study theatre. That’s how I was allowed to stay in Belgium. Then I learned French in order to be accept to the INSAS school of film and theatre. I passed the exams and was accepted. That is how my story with film began.

What was it like, growing up in Israel as a Palestinian in Nazareth in the 1960s?

The situation was difficult: the people had lost its homeland and found itself under cruel colonialism. What can I say, I grew up as everyone did, a long sad story that has been going on ever since. Even though there were good things for me in my encounter with Israeli society, I felt that in Israel I couldn’t lead the life I wanted. I remember how, as a child, I began to understand our reality through things that happened in our everyday life. We actually grew up knowing that Nazareth lands were taken in order to build Upper Nazareth. One of my childhood memories is connected with a visit in Upper Nazareth. My father worked there in construction. One Sunday, my mother suggested that I and my brothers go visit our father and eat together. I remember sitting down to eat in this clump of trees, while on the other side sat a group of para-military youth, and their three weapon-carrying counsellors. When they noticed us, they began to yell: Arabs, Arabs, Arabs! There were four of us – George [film-historian George Khleifi], who was 14 at the time, my sister, my cousin, and myself – 11 years old. I understood immediately, broke out in a run and dragged my sister along, while the others didn’t make it, and the Israeli boys along with their counsellors began to beat them up, just like that. That is how we began to understand our ‘problem’, namely to understand who those people are who come and take everything while beating us up. We began to understand our life circumstances. I was beginning to read what happened in Europe, about colonialism, imperialism. Then the question formed in my mind, even as a child: how the victim becomes the perpetrator. I was shaping my mind at the time and began to realize that Zionism’s problem is mythologization. Mythology becomes reality. On the other hand, Palestinians have a reality too, but they don’t know how to mythologize it. Even in film, there is reality and there is feature film, and the feature is stronger and more effective than the documentary.

About 11 or 12 years after 1948, I recall being taken to Upper Nazareth to see an exhibition about the Auschwitz death camp. That’s how it was called then, the death camps. This was the construction of history. They used the Holocaust ideologically.

When we were children, we were told to recite “Let there be peace, greetings from nation to nation”. Then we only saw that we were beaten up and not allowed to get away. We grew up into this schizophrenia. I don’t say this in spite, but that’s how it happened. We didn’t really have the opportunity to think about all of this together, and each side thought whatever was put into his head as an ideology.

I felt I needed to distance myself in order to be able to think. Ever since then I have thought a lot about what might be called ‘our common destiny’. I don’t see how we continue from war to war. I am worried about fascism. Both in the Arab countries and the fascism towards which Israel is headed. Jacques Derida speaks of the legacy, both material and symbolic, that appears after the father dies, during the days of mourning. In our case, Muslims, Jews and Christians fight over the legacy of ‘their father’ Abraham… saying they each own that legacy. We fight over being the heirs of Abraham. Each says to the other: you are not the good son. The story is really sad, tragic. As after the death of the father – in the hidad, the Shiv’a – one eats a bit, speaks about the deceased. I feel we must speak about what has happened. We must mourn everything that is gone with time.

Let’s get back to the time you began to make films. Did you begin to study film as soon as you came to Brussels?

Khleifi: When I came to Brussels, I didn’t exactly know what I was going to do. I loved the theatre. My love for it was based mainly on the many plays I read in my youth. When I came to Belgium, I didn’t know French and had no matriculation certificate. I realized that in order to study theatre, I don’t need to matriculate, and saw this as an opportunity. I was told I’d have to learn French, so I did. In addition, one day two actors came to the town where I was living near Brussels, and they gave a theatre class. They were impressed with my knowledge of theatre and introduced me to young people who were making theatre. That’s how my decision came about, to study theatre. When I had time between classes, I went to see films together with friends who were studying film, and was exposed to what they were doing. I also worked with them on their productions. During my first year as a theatre student, I began to realize that I love film, and began to work with friends who studied with me. Somehow, although I wasn’t such a good French speaker, everyone came to see what I was doing. I didn’t know what to do, I just understood something simple – that grammar, the language, should be understood in the simplest manner, and then taken apart. I’ve been doing the same thing ever since.

I believe that if one wishes to generate change through culture, one’s gaze must change. A film can do this. There’s a phrase I like, by Bertolt Brecht: ‘The head is round.’ In order to change thought, its direction must be changed. In my work, I try to make change in the direction of thought through film. After completing my theatre studies, I went to the university. I studied Deleuze and Foucault, and things that had been inside me suddenly became meaningful. For example, the insight that one cannot stop anger and violence which resemble a river, but one can dig drainage ditches. If violence is allowed to flow, it dies of itself. For me, culture and film do this. Often you hear that ‘the people don’t want…’, but I too began from zero, and realized childishly, perhaps intuitively, that with an accumulation of culture we will arrive at something. When I am spoken about as one of the pioneers of Palestinian cinema, it makes me laugh. In my own experience, from 1977 or ’78 until about 1994 I was alone. The only one.


That is why here, in Israel, you are considered the father of Palestinian film.

No. I am neither father nor mother. I feel I did what I had to do, and I am glad of it. For example, in the film Wedding in Galilee (1987), in the scene where the children release the mare and she gallops to the horizon, there’s another horizon, and another. And that is what I construct. To create, as the French say, dévoiler, ça c’est la voile – means to cover, hide and expose, between exposure and concealment. The child chases the mare, and then discovers a man and a woman among the trees, his mother, after sex.  The child discovers the mystery of his mother’s sexuality. Immediately afterwards the child stops, facing a sign: ‘No entry, no throughway’ meant to prevent passage through a firing zone. Going out to the horizon, followed by discovery of sexuality, and then blocked passage – that’s my way of expressing exposure and concealment in cinematic language. But when I watch the film again, I see other things. I believe this is what we should do. Open subjects, at times indirectly, and then the spectators begin to think, and they want to understand more.

This is very visible in your films. You don’t just tell your own story, there is always this cinematic added value.

I invite the spectator to be active and intelligent. I think that’s our job. If a simple person looks at an art work by Leonardo Da Vinci or Picasso, for instance, he would say it’s nice, but he will not understand it as something that concerns him. I think our role as filmmakers is to make films that touch people, but not sentimentally. That’s why I also place ‘mines’ there, for the understanding.

You said you saw a few popular films and read plays. You spoke of the development of your political consciousness. But the first film you make, Fertile Memory (1980), is also a stylistic trailblazer. You were the first filmmaker to deal with the conflict and the Nakba, but beyond the political story, in which you always see the other as well, the film is very poetic. Its rhythm is different. How do you make this connection between politics and poetics?

I think that the slow pace enables one to see the beauty of Palestine. One cannot really see something without its right pace. When I am told the film is slow, I answer that a child who begins to walk does it slowly. He cannot run yet. When people are filmed, one needs to think about time and space, and the connection between them. Without it you cannot make films, you cannot create. In every single frame I detach myself into this. I think about what it is that I want to say to the spectator, how many poetic elements are there in the frame, not such that he can see immediately, but disguised, covered. When I place the camera, I don’t want the spectator to look at something central that I’m showing him, I want his gaze to change slowly.

This is a very highly developed documentary approach. In documentary films, when you shoot reality, convention says you have no time to place a frame, think of style, since you are chasing the action, situations. And you say you build every frame, plan your own film. Perhaps more than that, for already in the 1980s, when you made your first film, you didn’t distinguish between documentary and feature film – you made cinema.

I plan the architecture of the film. It was a time when I was thinking about the differences between men and women. Those days, an American book was just translated into French, Notre Corps, Nous Mêmes.[6] I read there, among other things, that the man’s orgasm is vertical, while the woman’s is horizontal. So, I wanted to make a ‘féminin’ film. I decided to shoot a film that would be all horizontal. I tried to translate ideas into cinematic practice, from idea to image. For example, when people walk in the film, the movement is horizontal, and the images of the women are different from those of the men. In addition, while working for Belgian television, in interviews, I realized that men tend to deliver speeches to the camera, so as a way of bypassing that I preferred to interview less men. I realized that women had a greater potential. Women are always present in the emotive dimension of life. That’s everywhere, not just in Palestine. I also thought that women’s writing is more creative than men’s.

We see the way you observe women in Palestinian society, in the series of women photographed throughout the city in Fertile Memory. Young girls, older girls, young women, adults and elderly women – all wandering the streets, standing at their home windows, smoking in the porch, with a romantic love song sounding in the background, sung by Sahar’s daughter. Apparently, this scene relates to this place, women’s delicate movement between freedom and tradition inside the space of which they are a part.

Yes, in order to be able to photograph truth, la verité, you can’t do it without poetics. Cinema is the most poetic medium there is, in my opinion. More than what you now have in video. When I was asked how I address politics in my films, I said that if you take a camera and follow a child, Palestinian or Israeli, leaving home in the morning to walk to the center of town – you see the situation, the place. You don’t need anything else.

One may regard cinema as a medium of delivering ideology. There are examples of this in Lebanese, Palestinian, Latin-American film – the cinema of struggle. But whereas other filmmakers, idealists, tell a story, usually they don’t have the kind of poetics you show in your films.

In my opinion these filmmakers are not intellectual enough, their horizons are not wide enough.

You deal with the pain of Palestinian society, but also criticize the state of women in your society. You don’t only criticize Israelis and colonialism – you also do it to Palestinian society.

That’s right. Because Israel draws its power from the fragile structure of Palestinian society. This structure has not been caused by Israelis but from within this society itself. It does not have sufficient consciousness of the place, of the past, the present, of the other. Unfortunately, Israelis have lately begun to resemble this society – “I am master of the world, I and I and I and I.” Israelis are affected by local decadence. In a way I love decadence, because it contains freedom. For me, this work is spiritual. If I film a tree, there’s more there than a tree. It is life. If I place the camera to watch the light of the tree, for me this is spiritual.

In your film Ma’loul Celebrates its Destruction (1985) that deals with the Nakba, you bring us back to the Holocaust. You lay one layer on top of another.

But it is not necessarily done out of ideology. It is related to the construction that Israeli education offers Arabs.

Do you make documentary films out of budget considerations?

No. I very much like to shoot documentaries. I think it is very important. Don’t forget where I come from – a Marxist, materialist school. In Latin-America they spoke of teaching the people and about a culture of poverty, poor art. How to create out of poverty. In Fertile Memory, for example, I try to say that the culture of poverty creates resistance of poor culture. Therefore, I wish to make films by simple means. Unfortunately, in recent years, because I teach a lot, too, I realize that capitalism demands of us to learn and teach our students how to make commercial cinema. I wish to teach them that a film director is a citizen with ethical and moral responsibility, that he cannot lie. I don’t feel superior to you because I was born to an Arab mother and I speak Arabic, and I find it important to teach about Nazi propaganda, Jewish history and communism, in Arab countries as well. For me, films are the most accessible means to express our humanity. I look for films that connect us to our humanity.

What do you wish to show by shooting in Palestinian space? Are there choices you could speak about, regarding the way you film this place?

From the very beginning, I felt that the world I see, this Palestinian world in which I grew up, is about to disappear. So, I thought: I’ll shoot it. It became a kind of obsession. I wished to build the place inside the film, through the film.


In the film Ma’loul Celebrates its Destruction you actually reconstruct, restore. The village has disappeared and you restore it through film. You built it with images, and the village painting serves as a map, and eventually, because of the film, the villagers will restore the church. It is moving to see how film creates reality, changes it. It is something we hardly even believe can happen.

That’s right. For me, as a film director, it is a miracle.


Even prior to the physical construction, the film itself contains acts of construction, such as parts that repeat themselves, flashbacks in which you slow down time.

Those parts are made not just for the sake of aesthetics, they speak to one’s sub-conscious. I didn’t want to use slow motion, I felt it was too crude. I didn’t know what to do. I took materials from shooting in a village near Jenin, and put them on the editing table, placed the camera in front of them and rolled at very high speed. 12 minutes of material turned into a minute-and-a-half. And then I repeated it. I thought, there’s no slow motion in memory, it hits you and hits you, and finally comes back to you.

You reconstructed the movement of memory.

That’s what I was looking for.

We mentioned the film Fertile Memory earlier, describing two Palestinian women, an older one and a younger one, a peasant and an educated woman. The younger woman is Sahar Khleife, a writer and university professor, born in Nablus. When Sahar speaks of women in Arab society, she is filmed with a large window behind her, overlooking the city of Nablus and its alleys. Could you elaborate on this choice?

I wished to show her living alone as an individual, compared to life together as a community in the more traditional life of this crowded city. Unlike Rumia, the older peasant woman, who is almost never filmed on her own, here I wanted to show the birth of the individual. Sahar has left her husband, she has two daughters and they too are individuals. This is the beginning of modernity in Palestinian society, not necessarily as good or bad, but as a historical phenomenon which I wished to show.

When I finished my studies, I wrote a thesis on Arab literature in the twentieth-century, until the 1970s. There were few materials available and I had to search for them. It made me understand many things and think about what there was and what there wasn’t. I began to realize that many things were not documented, and there is a need to create memories. I was alone, and realized that was I was filming, for Belgian television as well, is part of our story, the history of Israelis and Palestinians from that time. The heading of my thesis was “Palestinian Art and Literature from the Beginning of the Twentieth-Century”. While writing this, I understood the broader story of Palestinian art, and the need to construct and tell it. At that time the question also arose, what is ‘authenticity’, between tradition and modernity. I realized that culture which is considered modern today, will be seen as archaic tomorrow, and therefore synthesis and continuity should be created, and what is important is not the ‘authentic’ but what I express in my films.

Thus, I obtained a new gaze at culture. It was now important for me to place women in the film in a historical, sociological and anthropological context. Architecture shot in the films, too, is a part of this need to document that which exists. I used material from the Galilee and the West Bank, eclectically. I took from here, from there. I knew that what I was seeing was not certain to exist in the future, and should therefore be filmed.

Apparently in your films you construct and restore without any bricks or mortar. Something has been ruined and you reconstruct it, revive it.

Yes, I knew that something must change in one’s mind, open one’s eyes. I wanted to show beauty, and how it is destroyed, before it’s too late. In order to protect something, one must love it. In order to love it one must know it. You may not love me simply because you don’t know me. When one doesn’t know, one can hate, kill. You see, I wanted to show the beauty of people who live in this place, who have a history and a connection to this land. I film out of love, and I wanted to pass this love on to whoever watched the film.

At the beginning of Fertile Memory, Rumia, your mother’s sister, tells the story of her life as she looks out of the bus window on her way from home in Yafi’a village, to work in the factory. It is a very strong moment for me. Why did you choose to tell it this way?

The shot was meant to show Rumia’s life story, who from a woman planted in her home life, became a factory worker. She has no land, and therefore goes out in the morning to a world outside her village. I was showing that colonialism destroys the past and social structure, and poses a challenge – how to find ourselves anew in modernity. The two women in the film confront this challenge. Rumia finds herself in a bind. She wishes to do justice to her husband. He was ill and went to be treated in Beirut in 1948, and then died there, and thus his land was taken away. Even thirty years later, she is not willing to give up that land.

The shots convey a feeling of belonging to the place. Rumia is planted in her home, in the yard, in the tree grove. She is constantly busy with exhausting housework – caring for the domestic animals, treating sheep’s wool, cooking and more.

I filmed housework because I wanted to show and emphasize how hard these women work. Rumia’s home, a rural Arab house, is part of my childhood environment. When its roof was being made, all the acquaintances, relatives and friends were called upon to help, that’s how it worked at the time. I was called too, but I was a football player in the Nazareth team and didn’t want to come… Eventually I worked with them on that roof for half a day, since we had a game against the Herzliya team. I filmed parts of different houses in order to show a rich picture of the way women like Rumia lived. In his films, Pasolini too filmed at several places and created what looked like a single site. In my view it resembles poetry. One sees a flower somewhere, and light somewhere else, and connects them. That is how film is made, too. When the women make cookies and talk about the situation of women, one sees the house from the outside. It is filmed in a different house, not distant, but different. In this scene I wanted to speak about the line separating the inner from the outer world. From the women’s talk near the house, while making cookies, one sees the women thinking about life and about history, about culture. I wanted to show the house as women’s gardens. Every woman has a garden, an emotional inner garden that no one can destroy. I have always believed that to resist is to protect the gardens inside us.

What kind of cinema do you like?

I like films that bring you close to nature. All those who tried to kill nature, which is present in and around them, will eventually disappear. Therefore, I believe we must be more humane. This is my point of view, and it is also the kind of cinema I like, such as that of Kurasawa, Tarkovsky, Pasolini and others… Films that are organic, a part of nature. I am told that I am mad, a utopian. But I prefer this to being commercial. So why not dream?

What are you working on now?

I am working on several projects. One – the script of which I am about to finish writing these days – is about 1948. While I was making the film Route 181: Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel (2003) with Eyal Sivan, I met a man from Ramle who is now in his late seventies. He told me his story and that of his family after 1948, and that’s where I began. I am working on the script for a feature film based on this. The film begins now, and goes back to everything he experienced. I think it’s important for people to see these films, and understand the story of the simple people who experienced the Nakba. It is, indeed, a feature film, but is meant to make us think not only of the film and its topic, but also where we come from and where we are headed.

Michel Khleifi – Filmography

Zindeeq (2009), Route 181: Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel (2003), The Tale of the Three Lost Jewels (1995), L’Ordre du Jour (1993),

Canticle of the Stones (1990), Wedding in Galilee (1987), Ma’loul Celebrates its Destruction (1985), Fertile Memory (1980)

Dr. Liat Sabine Ben Shoshan is an architect and researches visual culture. She teaches at the Bezalel Academy of the Arts, at Tel Hai College, and at the Department of Architecture at the Academic Centre WIZO, Haifa. She researches the relations between the moving image and constructed space, and everyday spaces between film and architecture and their aesthetic and political roles in society and present culture. Her doctoral thesis dealt with architecture and everyday spaces in Perlov’s Diaries. She has published papers in various academic journals.



[1] For about twenty years after 1948, the Arab population lived under military government. Even after this apparatus was annulled in 1966, the public sphere in Arab cities and communities remained disfigured. The development of these communities was slow and arbitrary due to the combination of political inequality and conflicts between private ownership of land and public interests, and the patriarchal traditions of Islamic society (Khmaisi, Ghasem, “Land ownership as a space-shaping factor in Arab communities”. Horizons in Geography (1994): 43-56 Heb.)

[2] Nurit Gertz and George Khleifi, Space and Historic Memory in Palestinian Film, 2006, p. 74.

[3] For a detailed description of the rural Arab house, see: Ron Fuchs, “The Arab House in Palestine-Israel: A renewed study”, Catedra 89, pp. 83-126 Heb.

[4] Gertz and Khleifi 2006, p.  74.

[5] Public space, just like the public sphere itself in present Palestinian society, is undergoing a crisis, and in certain places does not even exist. See interview by Ines and Eyal Weizman with architect Sinan Abd Al Qader (Weizman, Ines, Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence. London: Routledge, 2014., p. 110).

[6] The book, which was published in both Hebrew and Arabic, was originally published in the US (Our Bodies Ourselves, 1970), and in French in 1977. The book, written ‘by women for women’, addressing women’s health, their body and sexuality from women’s point of view, refuted gendered conceptions of female and male sexuality and is considered a trailblazing feminist book (editor’s comment).

[1] For about twenty years after 1948, the Arab population lived under military government. Even after this apparatus was annulled in 1966, the public sphere in Arab cities and communities remained disfigured. The development of these communities was slow and arbitrary due to the combination of political inequality and conflicts between private ownership of land and public interests, and the patriarchal traditions of Islamic society (Khmaisi, Ghasem, “Land ownership as a space-shaping factor in Arab communities”. Horizons in Geography (1994): 43-56 Heb.)

[2] Nurit Gertz and George Khleifi, Space and Historic Memory in Palestinian Film, 2006, p. 74.

[3] For a detailed description of the rural Arab house, see: Ron Fuchs, “The Arab House in Palestine-Israel: A renewed study”, Catedra 89, pp. 83-126 Heb.

[4] Gertz and Khleifi 2006, p.  74.

[5] Public space, just like the public sphere itself in present Palestinian society, is undergoing a crisis, and in certain places does not even exist. See interview by Ines and Eyal Weizman with architect Sinan Abd Al Qader (Weizman, Ines, Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence. London: Routledge, 2014., p. 110).

[6] The book, which was published in both Hebrew and Arabic, was originally published in the US (Our Bodies Ourselves, 1970), and in French in 1977. The book, written ‘by women for women’, addressing women’s health, their body and sexuality from women’s point of view, refuted gendered conceptions of female and male sexuality and is considered a trailblazing feminist book (editor’s comment).

Anat Even - Independent filmmaker

Anat Even independent filmmaker, studied film and art in UCLA live in Tel Aviv.
Among her films: Duda (1994), Fozitibos (1995), Abram's Grocery (1996), compromise (1996), Forbidden... Read More

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