Last updated September 24th 2015

It is not every day that a Palestinian director from Ramallah presents her film at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, and that is a pity. For I believe that within this strange space known as “the conflict,” there is an urgent need that remains unfulfilled, a need that politics alone cannot solve. This is the need to tell our stories, and to listen to the stories of others.

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Nūn wa Zaytūn is a documentary film by Emtiaz Diab, a poetic journey through the lives and stories of ordinary people. The film follows Murad Ismail, a man with a love of cinema and a mission. Murad travels throughout the West Bank in his green truck, bringing Palestinian cinema to people living in villages that have no theater, or access to cinema. As he journeys through Yanun, Aqabat Jabr, Jala, Beit Mirsem, Bethlehem and Massha, he talks to the people he meets, and they tell him their stories. As the sun sets, he attaches a white screen to the truck while the townspeople bring out chairs, preparing for the outdoor nighttime screening.

This journey is one of beautiful scenes, the vast desert landscape, olive groves, and open sky, as well as small details: hands forming the round bread dough for baking, a black kettle nesting in the cheerful flames of an open fire. It is also a journey of words, as the poetic narration speaks of the letter Nūn, as it resonates in the words Palestine, zaytūn (olive in Arabic), and other associations.

Opening the evening was Alon Garbuz, the soon to be former Director of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, who said, “This is the last time I am standing on this stage and I am happy that the event is a Palestinian movie.”

The film was introduced by Doron Eran, who encountered Emtiaz Diab through his work on a documentary film on the life of actor/director Juliano Mer, and by journalist Anat Saragusti, whose acquaintance with Diab dates back to Geneva, thirty years ago. The screening was followed by a discussion with Samir Hulileh and Emtiaz Diab, who addressed the audience and also took questions. The film was received with overwhelming enthusiasm by the audience, almost everyone who spoke, began by saying: “I loved the film.”

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