I need to (uncharacteristically) put this down while it is fresh in my mind and heart.
Watched a movie this evening, called ‘Watani Habibi’. Made by filmmaker couple John Mandelberg and Janice Abo Ganis, the film is a 20 odd minute documentary on Palestinian musicians and dancers. While I expected a look at Israeli occupation and its effects, I did not expect a discussion/practice of art as resistance. Here, writing and singing songs were political acts in themselves, and enough reason for Mustafa al-Kurd’s expulsion from Israel/Palestine! The music in the film is hauntingly beautiful and the lyrics are simple, but deeply cutting. There is no Attenborough style commentary in the movie, and it is entirely in Arabic, with English sub-titles. The characters/artists speak for themselves, sometimes verbally, but more often through dance-drama and song. The film has avoided giving ‘background’ information to the situation in Palestine/Israel, and lets the artists speak about their current situation without trying to put it in context. A very interesting movie, and not least because it is quite literally resistance art in action, an idea that singer/musician Rim Banna is very conscious of and presents as a counterpoint to the guns and bombs of the occupation.
This was a very appropriate climax to another piece of art about Palestine, Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine’. I love the graphic novel/comic format, and am delighted that it is being used to tell ‘important’ stories in a much more engaging manner. Reading a comic is *much more pleasurable than Wikipedia or a dry (if knowledgeable) history book! I’m going to avoid a review, as this one seems to say all I want to. While I am not sure if Joe’s graphic novel is ‘resistance’ (sorry about so many inverted commas), seeing as he writes from the (relative?) safety of the west, it is definitely political art, and definitely good.
And that’s all I wanted to say.
[special thanks to debbie, jay, blade, bruce, menaka and ashan!]