Film Evening on the Roadshow of Art/ Violence
The distribution and the Roadshow of ART/ VIOLENCE were made possible thanks to the political development film award ‘CINEMA fairbindet’, donated by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Distribution and Roadshow were realized by the Arsenal Institute of Cinematography and Videoart. The project ‘CINEMA fairbindet’ is implemented by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). Cooperation partner: DW academy
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An artist is shot. Juliano Mer-Khamis – peace activist, director and actor – died in 2011 in front of his theater, in the refugee camp of Jenin. The refugee camp of Jenin is near the city of the same name in the north, in the West Bank, which is occupied by Israel since 1967. With more than 12.000 inhabitants, it is one of the biggest Palestinian refugee camps. To date the murder is still not clarified. Mer-Khamis, the son of a Jewish mother and a Palestinian father, led the Freedom Theatre since 2006 and fought with the means of art against the hopelessness and the violence in the refugee camp. Besides, the theater represented for him a possibility to offer a stage to artists, despite their nationality or gender. The film “Art/Violence” documents the period in the Freedom Theatre after Juliano Mer-Khamis’ murder: What they should do with his legacy? How can they handle the powerless feelings of sorrow and rage? How can they go on with the theater? In a compund of interviews, scenes from the theater, recordings of a hip-hop concert, flashbacks and animations, the film documents old as well as new theater projects, but also the difficulties and challenges that the young actors and actresses are facing in their work.
The structure of the film “Art/Violence” is divided in three chapters which refer in each case to a project of the Freedom Theatre: Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carrol,1865) Alice, the heroine of the story, follows a speaking, white rabbit in a fantastic journey in a wonderland full of oppositions and absurdities, a journey in which all known order systems are gradually broke up. In the adaptation from the Freedom Theatre, Alice escapes from her reality of poverty and oppression. In the wonderland, she meets characters who bring her to think over her own identity and to question what is “correct” and what is “wrong”, what “is “normal” and what is “abnormal ». “The last piece that Jul’ directed before his murder was Alice in Wonderland. I was the ‘red queen’ […] who is the ruler in Wonderland and who controls everyone. She represents leaders, for example Barak or Abu Mazen.” (Mariam Abu Khaled) Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett, 1952) In While Waiting, the Freedom Theatre’s new interpretation of Waiting for Godot, the spectator waits for the never appearing Godot with the protagonists Didi and Gogo. The reality shown in the film as well as the theater play are full of insecurity. The stay offers the firm belief that a sense lies in the fact of waiting for Godot. “Even if we are actresses in a theater which is no theater, in a homeland which is not a homeland, in a country which is not a country, it shows the fact that we have interpreted While Waiting as Palestinian women, that we have gained our rights. Those rights, which were taken from us, those rights we have abandoned.” (Batoul Taleb) Waiting for Godot is one of the most-quoted examples of absurd theater. Beckett’s obstinacy for a strict fidelity to actors and actresses gender in the roles distribution is well known, however the Freedom Theater team went against that will with a feminine cast for the male parts. The piece refers to questions about the meaning of life in the view of invariant and unexplicable processes. The new interpretation deals with powerlessness feelings and thematises gender problems. Antigone (Sophocles, in or before 442 v. Chr.) The heroine of the piece, Antigone, goes against the will of her uncle, the king Kreo. She buries the body of her brother, who Kreo executed on grounds of high treason and then who’s funeral was forbidden. For having done that, Kreo sentences Antigone to death. When Kreo finally changes his mind because of the warning of the Gods revenge, it is already too late, Antigone has killed herself. “Before the murder of Juliano, we had begun to work on Antigone in Jenin, a film from which we hoped that it would have been able to represent the complexity of the death for art, for women’s rights and for the liberation from Israeli occupation” (UdiAloni) This third and last chapter in the film follows the 12-year-old daughter of Juliano Mer-Khamis, Milay Mer, who undertakes – a year after the death of her father – to fulfil one her unrealized dreams: the cinematic adaptation of Antigone. She meets in Jaffa the well-known actors Saleh Bakri and Amer Hlelel as well as Udi Aloni, Mariam Abu Khaled and Batoul Taleb to turn a crucial scene. Her free interpretation thematises the patriarchal structure of the society in the Palestinian zones, by means of the question, whether and how freely an actress on the stage may develop her own expression styles.
Festivals and Awards Panorama of the Berlinale 2013 – World Premiere / Winner of the CINEMA fairbindet Prize Cinema South Festival (Sderot, Israel) – Prize of Juliano The Jerusalem International Film Festival (Jerusalem, Israel) Documentarist Film Festival (Istanbul, Turkey) Montreal International Documentary Festival – RIDM (Montreal, Canada) MedFilm Festival Rome – Winner of the “Open Eyes Award 2013″