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CANNES 2002 Competition

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The real enemy in Ramallah

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- Is Divine Intervention by Palestinian Elia Suleiman propaganda or a mockery?

The real enemy in Ramallah

Kudos to Humbert Balsan, Youssef Chahine and Bagdadi´s producer for having brought the first Palestinian film director to competition in Cannes. Elia Suleiman was born in Nazareth in 1960 and his film, Divine Intervention is a ludicrous and almost completely silent collage of murders, love affairs set against the military checkpoints that separate Jerusalem from Ramallah. This is a film that will make people sit up and take notice. It is also full of gags and torts that leave the most atrocious aftertaste. Divine Intervention short circuits the news bulletins from Israel and their butcher´s bill of dead and wounded. It is a glimpse of reality in a country where your worst enemy is your next-door neighbour cowering behind his steel-reinforced front door.
Some feel that Suleiman, who won the best first film award in Venice ´96 for Story of a Disappearance, is making propaganda especially in the scene where a female ninja wearing a kefiah routs Israeli sharpshooters. "All the producers asked me to cut that sequence. Balsan was the only one who gave me carte blanche." The film is full of political signals that are really difficult to decipher, from the red balloon with Arafat´s face displayed at the checkpoint to Father Christmas pursued (perhaps) by the children of the Intifada. Suleiman refuses to be drawn on issues like terrorism and the current conflict. "Like everyone else I hope that the suicide attacks will end. But I don´t want to say say anything that could be manipulated. I tried to cross the borders and barriers that prevent Palestinans and Israelis from moving about freely and used the instruments at my disposal: my imagination. I am not interested in the Great Palestine or the Great Syria or the Great Israel, and believe that the State identifies with power, and power with corruption. But I know that I´m just a dreamer."
Suleiman also has something to say about Italy and "its democratic fascism legitimised by the media".

(Translated from Italian)

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