Amoula il Majnoona

Amoula's blog from Ramallah

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ENTRY DENIED: Annemarie Jacir

Here is the letter Annemarie wrote after being brutally denied entry into Palestine yesterday at the Allenby Bridge. She was coming to attend the world premiere of her film and we were all going to celebrate her film and her success with her.

For more information on this unofficial Israeli policy of denying entry:

Here is a letter she wrote when she was sent back yesterday:

I have been looking forward to this week for months now – it was to be one of the most important moments for me - the world premiere of our feature film "milh hadha al- bahr" (Salt of this Sea) in Palestine.

The premiere was to take place in Amari Refugee camp in Ramallah, with the cast and crew, the people who helped make this film happen, who believe in it, to be in attendance. An outdoor screening and an occasion to share the completion of a project which has been the result of a five-year struggle. What made this event so special was that it is also a big celebration for us – that we received the incredible news that the film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival as an Official Selection (May 14th – 25th, 2008).

As you may know, the Israeli Authorities have not allowed me to return to Palestine for 9 months now. Because of this we were not able to film a main scene of the film and in the end, the scene had to be shot in Marseille, France. My lawyer has been working now for eight months on the issue of my return home. So for the premiere of the film, I also had an invitation from the French Consulate in Jerusalem, who have been supporters of the film, and the International Art Academy of Ramallah were co-sponsoring the screening. There was nothing I was looking forward to more than fianlly being back in Palestine and sharing the film.

From Amman, Jordan, I took the bus to the Allenby bridge (Sheikh Hussein) in order to cross the Jordanian border and enter the West Bank. I arrived at the bridge at 10 in the morning. The Israelis held me there for six hours, during which time I was interrogated approximately five times. In the beginning I was made to wait in the main room with all the other people crossing. After some time, I was taken to another section in the back, separated from the others, and spent the remaining period of my time waiting there alone. Every now and then people would come in and out of a door, sometimes to ask me questions, sometimes just on their way somewhere else. My telephone was taken from me.

At the end, I was then taken to the general room once more and asked to sit and wait. After about 20 minutes, a woman in a blue uniform (the others wore a different uniform), came towards me with my passport in her hand and four security agents behind her. She handed me my passport and said, "The Israeli Ministry of Interior has denied you entry." I asked if a reason was given. She said, "You spend too much time here." I was then deported - escorted by two of the agents out of the terminal and onto a bus back to Jordan.

I got on the bus. I felt like my legs weren't strong enough to carry me.

Annemarie Jacir


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Milh Hadha al-Bahr (Salt of this Sea) GOING TO CANNES!

The Palestinian film, Salt of this Sea ("milh hadha al bahr"), directed by Annemarie Jacir and starring Suheir Hammad and Saleh Bakri, has been accepted as an "Official Selection" of the Cannes Film Festival 2008.

The Cannes Film Festival takes place in May 2008, which is also the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Salt of this Sea, the first feature film by a Palestinian female director to be accepted to the Cannes Film Festival, follows the story of third generation refugees in search of freedom and is a commemoration of the ongoing Nakba.

In May 1948, Israel was declared a "Jewish state" despite the fact that the majority of the indigenous population consisted of Palestinian Arabs, Christian and Muslim. Zionist leader David Ben Gurion instituted "Plan Dalet" in order to change the demographic make-up of historic Palestine and secure physical control over the territory. What followed is the expulsion and dispossession of 780,000 Palestinians from their homes and land (75% of the population). More than 530 Palestinian villages were depopulated and/or completely destroyed. And the world's largest and longest-standing refugee population was created.

Before Cannes, the film will have its world premiere in Amari Refugee camp in Ramallah with the presence of the film director Annemarie Jacir and main cast.

Milh Hadha al-Bahr (Salt of this Sea)
Palestine 2008
Directed by Annemarie Jacir
Produced by JBA Production
1'43" min.

Soraya, born in Brooklyn in a working class community of Palestinian refugees, discovers that her grandfather's savings were frozen in a bank account in Jaffa when he was exiled in 1948. Determined to reclaim what is hers, she fulfills her life-long dream of "returning" to Palestine. She meets a young man whose ambition, contrary to her, is to leave forever and find a life far away. Tired of the constraints that dictate their lives, they know that in order to be free, they must take things into their own hands, even if it's against the law.