narrate to create space for re-narration

Bab Al-Shams (The Gate of the Sun) the recent epic film by Yousry Nasrallah after Elias Khoury’s book to tell the story of Palestinians received an extensive review on Al-Ahram weekly and I leave the space to quote from there:

… Improbably yet convincingly, the film ends on an optimistic note. Khalil, child of the camps, now freed from the yoke of his father, decides to return. He just walks back. Nahila leaves a letter with instructions to her grandsons to seal off the cave of Bab Al- Shams.
It is a space that has been reclaimed, sacred ground that has not been violated by occupation, a space of love, magic and fertility. Likewise the film: a space for memory that Khoury and Nasrallah have opened up for contemporary generations — Palestinians and Arabs alike; a space waiting to be reclaimed and re-narrated — from the beginning….

… In opposition to the kind of sensational cinema epitomised in the pseudo-documentary style of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), moreover, Bab Al-Shams questions the veracity of even documentary footage — even though the second part of the film, “The Return”, opens with a scene shot with a hand-held video camera operated by Om Hassan’s nephew, who is filming her 1983 visit to her former house in Galilee, thus setting the magic realism of the first part in relief — a space moulded by the will of the allegedly impartial journalist if not the subjectively motivated filmmaker. In a more graphic duplication of atrocities, the shock value would have detracted from the memory of tragedy. And in this sense Nasrallah’s film belongs in the tradition of Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), in which the closest one gets to understanding the calamity is sharing a personal memory of it. ….

The film has been aired by arte last october and there can be found quite some further material on the website about the film (german description) and its regisseur Yousry Nasrallah in an interview in french and german.

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