Socialist Worker

The Time That Remains

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2204

Elia Suleiman: Palestinian film pioneer

Elia Suleiman: Palestinian film pioneer


It is 16 July 1948 and Zionist forces have bullied the Palestinian mayor of Nazareth into signing over control of the city to the new state of Israel.

While their declaration states that everyone will be treated equally, an air of intimidation exposes the weakness of the words.

As the Israeli army moves into the city, shooting at houses and rounding up Palestinian men, everyone knows their lives have dramatically changed.

In this partly autobiographical film, Palestinian director Elia Suleiman focuses on a single, middle class, family, coming to terms with being Palestinian in a city that has become part of Israel.

He follows the family’s son Elia from childhood to late middle age.

The resistance movement is seen from a distance.

The main characters watch battles involving Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing men carrying Palestinian flags from balconies.

As a child Elia attends a school that wins a Hebrew singing competition and the classroom is decked out with Israeli flag bunting.

His teacher pulls him aside for rejecting the school’s ideology, asking, “Who told you America is colonialist?”

Elia’s relationship with his mother is one of the most touching parts of the film.

She sits on the balcony and he brings out a stereo speaker so she can hear traditional Arabic music. This in itself has become an act of defiance.

Although a little isolating at the start, the characters develop as the film progresses, making it rewarding viewing.

The Time That Remains
Directed by Elia Suleiman


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Tue 1 Jun 2010, 18:54 BST
Issue No. 2204
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