Monday 18 January 2010
10 February 2010, Margareta & Marcus' House
Home Made Deep Fried Falafel waiting in the oven
A Bohemian falafel night
During this meal, we watched 4 films by Rayna Nadeen and Stuart Bamforth. Working in collaboration with Save The Children, they travelled to Gaza to work with seven 15-16 year olds over the course of two weeks making films about their lives.
Tonight we were invited to a home made falafel dinner at Margareta and Marcus’ House. Our lovely hosts took care of all the details, from food to high tech equipment. We arrived to a warm room with a long table full of Middle Eastern food and most importantly falafel. A projection screen came down to cover the long window at the end of the table. It was a perfect situation, a combination of food and art presentations!
Margareta and Marcus wanted to make falafel from scratch, but after searching for days for how to do it best, they decided to go for a ready-made mix. It wasn’t an easy task for them, but after a long research they came upon what they believe is the best falafel mix they found: Casbah Falafel.
There were about 13 people, mostly artists and some curators. We started by presenting our project and showing our blog to give a feeling to everyone present what the idea behind the falafel was. As usual Edd took out camera “Flip” and the cheese board; another falafel meal has begun.
We moved on to watch four films by Rayna Nadeen and Stuart Bamforth. They made these films in collaboration with Save the Children in Gaza. They documented the lives of children in the Gaza strip and how the last war on Gaza has left them with deep psychological scars. The films were very touching especially when the children kept repeating that all they wanted was to feel secure and that all their friends and family be alive the next day. It seems like a very straight forward wish, yet so heart breaking to hear from a child.
We discussed the pluses and minuses of representing children from Gaza and the usual images of misery in all of Palestine. On the one hand, it is informative, but on the other hand, it again reiterates and cements these images of Palestinians in the poorest and most dilapidated surroundings. The repetition of these scenes almost makes the spectator equate this background with the Palestinian natural habitat. It is a bit disturbing, as there has to be a clear message of a before and after, otherwise it seems as though Palestinians always lived in these conditions. But these are all after- thoughts that we share with each other (just the two of us), as the films were brilliant. They of course do make one question media and issues of representation when it comes to the Middle East.
One visitor, who is also a mother, said that it changed her views completely which was really great to hear. So it feels that in terms of representations, certain films that are made to raise awareness outside of Palestine and by Palestinians themselves, do fulfil a certain criteria. On the other hand, one wonders if these films that are, of course, of great importance, if they don't end up contributing to a very particular image of Palestinians. Ever since 1948, the Palestinians have been the subjects of documentaries. This, although is done to inform, does inevitably put the Palestinians in the role of the analyzed and the viewer in the role of the analyzer. Palestinian documentarists as well as filmmakers from abroad add to this hierarchy, by the sheer repetition of films of this sort. In our view the world desperately needs to see a big side of Palestine that it has not been seen before, so that the spectator's mere sympathy can turn into real empathy. This reminded us of Notre Musique, a 2005 film by Jean-Luc Goadard. “In 1948”, Godard says, “the Israelites walked in the water to reach the Holy Land. The Palestinians walked in the water to drown. Shot and reverse shot. Israel becomes the stuff of fiction. The Palestinians, of documentary.”
The film Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land (Part1) sheds light on Israel's media control in the USA, in relation to its position in the region.
It was a great night, the food was great, the films were touching and the discussions around the table were lively. It almost reminded us of what bohemian life must have been. A Bohemian falafel night.