Khaled Jarrar: Notes on Displacement

I have written 13 blogposts about Khaled Jarrar on this site – since I met him in Ramallah and in Corfu in the Storydoc workshops organized by Greek Kostas Spiropoulos more than a decade ago. I have talked with him for hours about the Israeli occupation, about his own family and its fate, about his period as bodyguard for Arafat, about his film “Infiltrators” and about his humanistic work as an artist doing happenings around the world – you can read more about this by writing his name in “search” on this site.

No surprise for me that he with his newest film, “Notes on Displacement”, involves himself as the director and cameraman, who goes with a group of Syrian Palestinians on their journey that ends in Germany after troubles at borders in Europe. Troubles to say the least. Humiliation after humiliation. No food or non-eatable food, children and old people, father and mothers, grandparents. It’s chaotic and the film conveys this chaos. There are many night scenes, where you can´t see what happens but you hear voices crying out for help or rough answers from the authorities including the one of Jarrar, who often speaks on behalf of the refugees. And with the refugees with all the warmth and compassion you can come up with in the turbulent situations.

Content as described by Jarrar: “Nadira, an elderly Palestinian, has been a refugee since the age of 12. Now she has to evacuate Damascus, too. She and her daughter Mona feared for their lives there, but the idea of a safe existence elsewhere is a distant dream. (I) filmmaker Khaled Jarrar received unsettling videos and voice messages as they cross to the Greek island of Lesbos. I join them there, on the long road to a new life…

My grandmother Shafiqa was forced to leave her home in Haifa, her Jasmine tree, her cup of tea on her balcony and her view forced me back in time. Nadira’s plea brought me to the front lines; creating new memories by walking this new exodus together. We were real time inside the frame capturing the present to battle the past – creating a communication between the two. As the director from behind the camera I was driven to offer images of our own making, outside the never-ending western paparazzi image onslaught of displaced refugees. This film is for us, our values, our knowledge, our experiences…”

Do I need to say that the film includes images of boats on the water full of people in need, crying for help – of tents where people are together waiting waiting waiting – of clashes with police and guards at borders, especially the Hungarian one is hard to watch and tolerate for its lack of humanity… It’s hard to watch.

Happy that there are artists like Khaled Jarrar, who has the personal courage to get involved and communicate, this time through film.

Palestine, Germany, Qatar, 74 mins., 2022

6 pens.

photo credit: Tamra Habash
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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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