Evening Film: “Suspended Time” a program of nine short films

a program of nine short films by
Alaa Al Ali, Ayman Azraq, Mahdi Fleifel, Asma Ghanem, Yazan Khalili, Arab and Tarzan Nasser, Assem Nasser, Amin Nayfeh, Muhannad Salahat
Filmmakers

Friday, December 12, 2014
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. EST
The Jerusalem Fund


Suspended Time was conceived as a way to understand the status quo of image production twenty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords in Washington, D.C. in 1993. The idea of producing short films around this concept came from our disability in seeing where we are standing today, both politically and cinematically.”
 
“Oslo’s most obvious impact is that its ‘vision’ was designed to accommodate Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. The remaining people in refugee camps around the Arab countries, the Diaspora and Palestinians living in the 1948 territories, and their rights were disregarded. We conceived of this production as mirroring this state of fragmentation, and asked Palestinian filmmakers to reflect on the twenty years of the Oslo Agreement, regardless of their geographical location.” 
– Idioms Film, excerpts from program notes for Suspended Time
 
The Films
 
Leaving Oslo (dir. Yazan Khalili, 4 min)
He returned in 1994, with the first wave of PLO returnees that were allowed to come back after the signing of the Oslo Accords. He hadn’t been back since he left in 1968, when he fled to Jordan. He wrote me a letter that day, telling me how happy he was to return. He wrote how he had missed his city, the streets of his childhood, his family, his friends. He also wrote how angry he was to be checked by an Israeli soldier, to see an Israeli flag so close that he had to cover his eyes with his hands so he didn’t see it. He told me how sad he was to return to this half-won victory….Twenty years from that day, I’m leaving. I don’t want to stay in this half-dream….


From Ramallah (dir. Assem Nasser, 4 min)
Legend has it that a Roman woman used to run the largest brothel in the region on the site where today’s Moqata’a is. The Roman army commanders would meet there and discuss army matters. Eventually, the mistress and the women of the brothel learned all the army secrets. The Roman governor ordered the brothel to be destroyed and all the women were brutally killed. The legend goes on to say that for a long time shrieks and voices could be heard coming out of the site of the massacre. No one dared go near it.
 
 
 
Message to Obama (dir. Muhannad Salahat, 7 min)
In a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, two boys decided to send a message to the American president Barak Obama through his Facebook page. They ask him, as the president of the United States, to intervene and end the siege on the Gaza Strip, and they invite him and his wife to visit the Strip and witness people’s hardships there. But they never receive a response. They decide to use a small video camera to record a very angry video message addressed to Barak Obama from the people of the camp.
 
 
 
Journey of a Sofa (dir. Alaa Al Ali, 9 min)
To transport a newly bought sofa to your home is an easy task. At least in most parts of the world. In a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, this taks transforms itself into a Sisyphean journey, revealing the complexities and absurdities of everyday life in the Burj al Barajneh camp in Lebanon.
 
 
 

Interference (dir. Amin Nayfeh, 11 min)
In the midst of the Second Intifada, Malik is kept captive in his room by his family in order to study. To escape this oppression he finds comfort in two simple habits: listening to the radio and secretly observing his beautiful neighbor.
 
 
 
 

Apartment 10/14 (dir. Tarzan and Arab Nasser, 8 min)
It’s his birthday. While waiting for her to arrive, he imagines the moment when he first sees her. What will her gift be? As he shifts between dream and reality he receives a visit from a strange old man.
 
 
 
Oslo Syndrome (dir. Ayman Azraq, 6 min)
“2013 brought the Oslo Agreement into the spotlight all over again. It brought me back to 20 years ago, when I had a dream, now lost. This dream haunts me again. I feel as if I’m sitting in a train station watching trains and people come and go. They all have a destination to reach as I wait for a train that might never arrive.”
 
 
 
Twenty Handshakes for Peace (dir. Mahdi Fleifel, 3 min)
“I remember the handshake very clearly. My dad recorded the ceremony on video and would play it over and over again. He could not believe what had happened. In fact, none of us could. One time he threw his shoe at the TV and shouted so loud, the next door neighbors complained about him. Listening to the last interview with Edward Said while watching the ceremony made me realize that father’s anger was because chairman Arafat was the first to reach out his hand.”
 
 
Long War (dir. Asma Ghanem, 2 min)
Long War” interprets the repetition of political speeches by a very simple process of the repetitive recording, replaying and re-recording of a short segment from an interview made with Yasser Arafat in 1991. As the image and sound slowly mutate, we arrive to the final point, the Oslo Accords.
The Filmmakers
 
Yazan Khalili
Born in Syria in 1981, Yazan Khalili is an architext, artist and cultural producer who works and lives inside and outside Palestine. His art practice explores the relationship between the social and spatial elements of the built environment and the greater landscape. He is a founding member of the Zan Design Studio, established in 2005, and was an artist-in-residence at the Delfina Foundation, London, in 2008. Khalili’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, including Sharjah Biennial XI (2013); #ComeTogether, Edge of Arabia, London (2012); The Future of a Promise, Venice Biennale, Italy (2011; among other venues. His writings and photography have been published in such publications as Class and RaceManifesta Journal,Frieze and Ibraaz.
 
Assem Nasser
Assem Nasser is a student of visual arts at the International Academy of Art – Palestine. Over the years he has worked as a photographer and graphic designer. His works begin from personal but universal questions, and challenge all that is sacred so as to reveal a small part of the truth, which mostly is grotesque. His works are often narrative and deal with legends as mirrors of the unspoken reality. Visually, he juxtaposes the narrative with abstract images.
 
Muhannad Salahat
Muhannad Salahat is a Palestinian filmmaker, journalist and writer currently based in Stockholm, Sweden. Since 2011 he has been working as a freelance filmmaker in Stockholm where he works with a number of Swedish film and media companies. He has written scripts for a number of fiction and documentary films, and TV series. Salahat also works as a consultant for a number of media organizations in the Arab world.
 
Alaa Al Ali
Alaa Al Ali is a writer, filmmaker and multimedia artist of Palestinian origin. He was born and lives in Shatila camp in Lebanon. He has worked with local and international artists in making films and multimedia projects with a focus on the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon.
 
Amin Nayfeh
Amin Nayfeh was born in Palestine in 1988 and spent his formative years moving between Jordan and Palestine. Despite an early interest in filmmaking, in 2010 he earned his BSc. in Nursing from Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem. Two years later, he earned a degree in film producing from the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts in Jordan. He is determined to produce and create films that bring genuine stories from the region.
 
Tarzan and Arab Nasser 
Filmmakers and identicial twin brothers Tarzan and Arab (real names Ahmed and Mohamed Abu Nasser) were born in 1988 in Gaza. After they both graduated from Al-Aqsa University with a BA degree in Fine Arts, the brothers began to develop their film works. in 2010, Tarzan and Arab received the A.M. Qattan Foundation’s prestigious Young Artist of the Year Award for their project “Gazawood“.  With Rashid Abdelhamid, a Palestinian architect and designer, they founded the “Made in Palestine Project”, an independent artists’ initiative to create and promote contemporary visual art with a focus on Palestine. Their short film “Condom Lead” competed in the short film competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. 
 
Ayman Azraq
Ayman Azraq is a Palestinian artist and filmmaker born and raised in Bethlehem. He earned his MA degree in Fine Arts from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in Oslo where he currently lives and works. Since 2002 he has worked as an editor, director and cameraman on films. His short film “The Passport” was screened at the National Museum of Cinema in Turin (Italy), Cologne International Video Art Festival (Germany), among other places. In 2012 he was an artist in residence of the University of Ideas at the Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella (Italy), where he created “Let’s Talk about Women and Football“, a performance collaboration between the locals of Biella and other artists in the residency.
 
Mahdi Fleifel
Mahdi Fleifel is a Danish filmmaker of Palestinian origin. Born in Dubai, he was raised in Ain El-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon and later  in the suburbs of Elsinore, Denmark. He began filmmaking at an early age, a hobby he picked up from his father’s obsession with video cameras. Fleifel studied at the National Film and Television School in England under directors Udayan Prasad, Ian Sellar and Stephen Frears. His first year film, “Arafat & I” screened in many international film festivals and won prizes in Romania, Italy and the Czech Republic. In 2010 he and Irish producer Patrick Campbell set up the London-based Nakba FilmWorks through which they released Fleifel’s recent award-winning autobiographical feature, “A World Not Ours“.
 
Asma Ghanem
Asma Ghanem, born and raised in Damascus, currently lives and works in Ramallah. In 2013 she earned a BA in Visual Arts from the International Academy of Art – Palestine. In her work she explores the space between reality and illusion, and its representation. Asma employs imagination to experiment with our perception of objects and concepts that surround us in our everyday life. She works with photography, sound and film.