Interview with Ihab Jadallah
Media in Palestine is an obvious and omnipresent phenomenon, why was there hardly any film about this before?
Well I could say that this theme was a bit of an obsession for me, since Palestine is the place most captured through media lenses, constantly Palestinians are exposed to cameras. I think the reason that there was no film done about the media in Palestine, is because Palestinian filmmakers are more worried about exposing the daily problems and find a way to express their problems, and worries.
On another hand I believe that some of the young filmmakers try to avoid dealing with political stories in their films for the same reason of the saturation of the Palestinian image in the mass media. And, of course, because themselves they are saturated of the political question.
What made you deal with this subject in your film?
During some years of my life I believed that the media will discover to the world the true face behind the occupation, colonization, which will explain the reason behind a resistance movement, but surprisingly it was totally the opposite, the main and major mass media played a role giving excuses to the existence of this severe occupation.
Once I returned to the country I noticed that Palestinians and media had an undeclared agreement regarding the self-representation and the representation of the Palestinian cause. Its no longer about the truth behind what one might see on the news, but its more about the dramatization of this image which implicates modes of manipulation to serve the show of the newscasts.
And that's when Palestinian lost the media battle, they are no longer the freedom fighters, they are now the decadent image of a freedom fighter.
In the shooter there are several levels to read the idea of representation and dramatization of a reality: A reality imposed by the media, and the reality of the shooter being an actor that aspires to play the role of a hero.
This shooter is asked to represent himself as a cowered, running away from his enemies, while he is imagining himself how would he look like if he ever plays the role of a western hero, but still even in his dreams of being a western hero, he has plastic guns and no horse to ride.
On the cinematographic level the expression comes through the repetition, which is made to empty the scene of its real dramatic meaning and make obvious the falsity of the situation.
Saying that this is the first, or one of the rare films, from Palestine dealing with the media explicitly - there was Azza el-Hassan's NEWS TIME in 2001 - how did this effect the film language? What were the influences, if any?
The film of Azza El Hassan, I would like to see it.
I think in Palestine, we have a controversial phenomena which is the presence of too much cameras around, and the absence of Academies of Cinema and film theory.
This drove to a situation, were we have a lot of professionals working as cameramen and news reporters, who after a while decide to work in the field of documentaries and fiction films.
So the mix of absence of theoretical background and knowledge of film language, and the common work in TV, makes it hard to find the artistic qualities or cinematographic language.
Personally, I believe that we need to establish a film school that would help us to understand the film language better, not only to respect it, but also to know when and how to break it.
In the shooter for example I wanted to mix the cinematographic language, and semi reportage, in order to tell a story of a cinematographic/ fictive Western Cowboy, and the condition of news protagonist a Palestinian militant that seem to be more real.
Therefore I purposely chose when to move the camera and when not to... as well in the editing when to cut and when not to...
The influence I could say, comes from the Neorealist movement by Rossellini, in the sense of searching for the reality in the image when telling a fiction story, but on the other side I think the questioning of the image/portrait/representation, and its meaning, comes from Godard.
Is the way you make films representative for a young generation of film-makers in Palestine?
Is there a representative way of film-making? A common film-language? A common approach? A debate within the circle of film-makers about their works?
I donít believe there is only one way of film-making or a representative way. But I do believe that we should at least learn about the history and film language in order to be able to decide whether to use it or break it. There are some young film-makers in Palestine that are trying to make thier films as good as possible this is the only common approach towards films.
As for the debate, sure I talk to my colleagues and we discuss each others work, and its interesting because it creates some kind of a creative atmosphere that allows us to go deeper, in our stories and films.
Can you tell where the film was shown so far and how the reactions where in the different countries?
For example in Turkey the public didnít like the film at all. I believe they just didnít feel involved, as if it doesnít say anything to them. Meanwhile something magical happened at Hamburg International Short Film Festival: the public received it very well, and understood the irony down deep in the film, the film is not comical at all, but people were laughing during the 7 minutes the film is.
The film was shown in many countries, like Turkey, Germany, France, England, Spain, Finland, USA, etc...
(Interviewed by Irit Neidhardt)