Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

McJihad, the Film

by Jacob Mundy | published February 2015

The themes of Adam Curtis’ new documentary Bitter Lake should be well known to those familiar with his body of work: power, techno-politics, science, managerialism and the media. The film uses the contemporary history of Afghanistan to tell a story about how polities in the West have become incapable of understanding the complex and horrible happenings around them. Traditional forms of power in the West and Afghanistan have taken advantage of the fear and confusion to consolidate their control, but at the expense of an intellectually deskilled Western public and a world that is fundamentally less governable. Bitter Lake is more fable than scholarship, but the film is nonetheless a devastating examination of how Western interventions in Afghanistan refract the vacuousness of our own politics.

Seven Questions for Ammar Basha

by Sheila Carapico | published April 16, 2014 - 4:23pm

Ammar Basha is a Yemeni filmmaker. His documentary films include Breaking the Silence, about the discrimination faced by working women of African descent in Yemen, and a series called Days in the Heart of the Revolution, about the 2011 Yemeni uprising. Breaking the Silence took second prize at the Women Voices Now film festival in Los Angeles in 2010. The latter series was screened at the International Yemeni Film and Arts Festival in Berkeley, Washington, London and Sanaa. Basha also makes feature films.

The First International Yemeni Film and Arts Festival

by Annelle Sheline | published March 21, 2014 - 11:27am

March 18 was the third anniversary of what Yemeni “peaceful youth” call the Jum‘at al-Karama massacre, the day in 2011 when snipers opened fire on Friday of Dignity protesters in the space they had begun to call Midan al-Taghyir (Change Square). By the next day, more than 50 unarmed demonstrators lay dead.

As in Cairo’s Midan Tahrir three years ago and Ukraine’s Maidan in 2014, trigger-happy security forces not only failed to quell dissent in public squares but actually galvanized popular outrage and elite defections from the regime.

A Darkly Intimate Thriller

by Max Weiss | published March 20, 2014 - 9:03am

The first time I watched Omar, the latest Oscar-nominated work by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, I nearly leapt out of my seat as it careened toward the climax, unable to recall the last time a film elicited such a visceral response from me.

Hanna K. and Farah H.

by Miriam Rosen
published in MER124

Michel Khleifi, The Fertile Memory (Marisa Films, 1980).

Costa-Gavras, Hanna K. (Universal Studios, 1983).

I didn’t make this film to judge, but to transmit the diversity of attitudes. And also, because I can’t forget that as children my brothers and I had to steal fruits and vegetables in order to live in our own land.

The filmmaker is Michel Khleifi, a Palestinian from Nazareth who now lives in Belgium, and his film is The Fertile Memory, a collage of experiences that begins, in fact, with the image of a bowl of fruit on the table.

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Gitai, Field Diary

by Pat Aufderheide
published in MER130

Amos Gitai, Field Diary (1984).

Rarely has the cinema verité technique, with its false naiveté, been deployed so strategically as in Field Diary. It looks as if it could have been made by your little brother with the family toy camera, and it is even hard to credit filmmaker Amos Gitai with the earlier filmmaking experience that his House testifies to. But Field Diary, gracelessness and all, refuses to leave you when you leave the theater.

Arab Cinema in Exile

by Miriam Rosen
published in MER136

The smiling young actor posed on the cover of Cinematographe magazine this summer is Tunisian-born ‘Abd el-Kechich, star of ‘Abd el-Krim Bahloul’s 1984 film, Thé a la Menthe (Mint Tea). Jeune Cinema, meanwhile, is featuring Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, whose personalized retelling of the French invasion of Egypt, Adieu Bonaparte, premiered at Cannes in May and is now playing in the Latin Quarter. A few blocks away, another theater is showing Mehdi Charef’s Le Thé au Harem d’Archimede (The Tea in Archimedes’ Harem), which, like Thé a la Menthe, deals with the life of an Algerian immigrant in Paris.

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The Mind of the Censor

published in MER138

Gaza Ghetto, a documentary film about a Palestinian family in the occupied Gaza Strip by MERIP editor Joan Mandell and Swedish filmmakers Pea Holmquist and Pierre Bjorklund, premiered in Stockholm in November 1984. In January 1985, a Palestinian theater company in Jerusalem, El-Hakawati, purchased a copy and screened it for the press. The theater then presented Gaza Ghetto to the Israeli Council for Censorship of Films and Plays, as required of all films before public screening. On February 6, 1985, the council for censorship banned the film in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Israeli lawyer Avigdor Feldman appealed the ban on behalf of El-Hakawati on April 15, but a lower court upheld the decision.

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Viral Occupation

Cameras and Networked Human Rights in the West Bank

by Rebecca L. Stein | published March 20, 2013

When Israeli security forces arrived in the middle of the night at the Tamimi house in Nabi Salih, the occupied West Bank, the family was already in bed. The raid was not unexpected, as news had traveled around the village on that day in January 2011: Soldiers were coming to houses at night, demanding that young children be roused from sleep to be photographed for military records (to assist, they said, in the identification of stone throwers). Bilal Tamimi, Nabi Salih’s most experienced videographer, had his own camcorder at the ready by his bedside table when he was awoken by the knock on the door.

Gaza Ghetto

by Taline Voskeritchian
published in MER146

Pea Holmquist, Joan Mandell and Pierre Bjorklund, Gaza Ghetto: Portrait of a Palestinian Family, 1948-1984 (Icarus Films, 1984).

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