From the field : As if they do not exist. Images of (be)longing and of owning Palestine
Films from or about Palestine are frequently programmed at international film festivals. They are sometimes released in cinemas and quite often presented in special screenings at various institutions all over the Western World. Due to the scarcity of screens and the boycott of Israel, they are seen to a lesser extend in Arab countries. Compared to screenings of other Arab films or the presentation of movies from other former colonies and mandatory territories, Western audiences often react highly emotional to the images from Palestine. In debates questions for a better understanding of the films’ subject or context are barely ever asked. Rather the foreign spectators seem to have a sense of belonging and to claim the right for co-determination. Where do these emotional ties originate from? In recent years a large number of films shot in Palestine during the late Ottoman period and the British mandate were made accesssible online, mainly by the Steven Spielberg Film Archive in Jerusalem and the British War Museum in London. Libraries like the Library of Congress in Washington digitized parts of their photographic collections. Based on them as well as on the films I work with as distributor and programmer for Arab film series, in this article I look at images on and from Palestine and ask for what purpose, in which context and by whom they were made and distributed.
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