Wed, Dec 15, 2004 - Page 13 News List

Taiwan International 4th Documentary Festival: Feel the hatred in Jenin

Mohammed Bakri talks to the residents of Jenin to gauge their feelings after their city was leveled in an Israeli offensive and finds, to little surprise, that the city is seething

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER


Watching Jenin ... Jenin is an uncomfortable experience not just because of the pictures of war and destruction, but also because of the upsetting words of the Palestinian refugees in Jenin city.

No matter whether the Jenin incident is called a massacre, a war crime or just another military attack in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what's for sure in the film is that hatred is spreading and the minds of the Palestinian people are deeply disturbed by terror and oppression.

As well as sympathy for the victims, viewers are certain to emerge feeling simply depressed about the whole situation in the Middle East.

The 50-minute video is a documentary about the attack on Jenin and its refugee camp in the West Bank in April, 2002. The result of the military operation was that the city was flattened and scores of residents were killed, though the number of casualties remains unknown.

Filmed in the weeks immediately after the Israeli offensive, the anger of the residents is still fresh and their accounts of the incident are vivid.

The film opens with a deaf Jenin resident pointing out the ruins, bullet holes in the streets and mimicking like a pantomime about how residents were killed by snipers or tanks. Then the camera swings to the rubble and ruin with an old man crying: "Where is God," while desperately searching for his relatives and belongings buried under the broken cement.

In a traditional documentary style, director Mohammed Bakri, an Arab Israeli, interviewed men, children and distressed middle-aged women who speak of their relatives buried alive by bulldozers, children forced to do hard labor for Israeli soldiers before they were shot dead, and the fierce fire of Apache helicopters.

FILM NOTE: Jenin ... Jenin

Directed by Mohammed Bakri

Running time: 50 minutes

Screening times and location:

TToday, 10:30am, Showtime Cinema; Friday,

1:30pm; Showtime Cinema

Between the interviews, the director includes shots of alleged execution scenes of civilians, a dozen men lying motionless in a row in front of a giant bulldozer and a group of civilians facing down a tank. The images are vague and fragmented, while it's hard to tell if the men in military uniforms are truly Israeli soldiers.

The most impressive part of the film is the eloquence of the Jenin residents who talk bitterly about their suffering, blaming the US and seeing themselves as deserted by the world.

Their judgment may not be objective, but their long history of oppression is deep-rooted, while their sense of powerlessness has trained the Palestinians in the eloquence of victimhood.

A little girl, who looks about 10, talks about her determination to fight back. The ongoing violence in her daily life only nourishes her feelings of hatred and the urge to take revenge. She shouts that the Palestinians will never give up the struggle, that they will keep on producing children who can continue the fight against injustice.

Because it presents almost exclusively the outcry of Jenin residents without offering accounts from the Israeli side, the film was banned in Israel.

Israel's film ratings board judged the film "one-sided propaganda," saying it "distorted presentation of events in the guise of democratic truth which could mislead the public."

But having a film banned always attracts more attention and Jenin ... Jenin is no exception. The film is currently part of the International Competition section of the on-going Taiwan International Documentary Festival.





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