Michel Khleifi Retrospective
Michel Khleifi is a very unique kind of filmmaker, a brilliant translator of what is hidden in the most remote parts of our souls. He is a poet.
Born in Nazareth in the 1950s, he goes on to study cinema in Brussels, then returns to film his country like no one else had ever done before, with his deeply personal way of using the cinematic tools, both fiction and documentary, in a very poetic manner - a lyricism that in his films acts as a magical key to open the doors to reality.
Most of his films question Palestinian society, Palestinian culture and the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. “Fertile Memory” was completed right before the outbreak of the first Lebanon war, while “The Canticle of Stones” was filmed during the First Intifada (also known as the “stones war”), a few years prior to the Oslo Accords (agreements that raised hopes on both sides, less so amongst extremists). “Route 181” was shot after the Second Intifada and three years after the construction of the Israeli wall began, in a time when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict again seemed to be irreversible.
Everyone can relate to Michel Khleifi’s searches over the past 40 years of creation, no matter where they come from and no matter their background. With him, we have the feeling of experiencing for ourselves the dispossession and the exile of all those whose identities are in danger. With him, we discover the diversity of the Palestinian people through their daily lives, we discover how their land is becoming increasingly fragmented, we feel the double restrictions imposed on women by the patriarchal Palestinian society under Israeli occupation, we witness political and social transformations. With him, we touch a sore point in a very beautiful and complex way, never voyeuristic or tear-jerking.
Michel Khleifi is a free person who, through his personal style of making his own kind of cinema, succeeds to set us, the viewers, free.