By Fay Lockett
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2910

Ghosts of Palestinian history in a new film

The real horror in this film is the erasure of Palestinian history and culture
Issue 2910
A House in Jerusalem Palestine Palestinian

Miley Locke and Johnny Harris in A House in Jerusalem

Eerie twists and turns and the hidden histories of Palestinians are seen through the eyes of an Israeli British girl in the new film A House in Jerusalem.

Palestinian director Muayad Alayan does not aim to portray the atrocious brutality of the everyday experience of Palestinians that we witness every day on social media.

Instead, his message is conveyed through the metaphors about silencing that interlace the film and remind us of the occupation in the West Bank.

The film starts with Rebecca moving to occupied Jerusalem with her father after her mother’s shocking death. The audience is constantly reminded of the occupation.

You see it in the padlocked well in the garden, the Israeli police who monitor Rebecca’s phone, a father who refuses to give space to his daughter’s overwhelming grief and the history of a house erased after the Nakba of 1948.

Rebecca begins to see the ghost of Rasha, a young Palestinian girl. But she is the only one who can see Rasha. Haunting It is another haunting reminder of Israel’s indoctrination and propaganda that threatens to silence Palestinian history.

In an interview Alayan admits the personal aspect of this film. It is clear from the scenes that weave Rebecca’s discovery of Jerusalem, the checkpoints, Bethlehem’s surveilled opposing wall, the maze of Aida refugee camp and the destroyed villages of Lifta and Imwas.

Within the enchanting friendship between Rebecca and Rasha, we witness how children expose the truth and yet equally are prevented from doing so by the adults in their lives.

Rasha is helping Rebecca grieve for her mother, but instead of being given the care she needs, she is subjected to invasive doctors. In her gratitude for Rasha’s care, Rebecca becomes determined to help Rasha understand her family’s story. Although publicised as a horror film, that’s not really accurate.

The suspense is at the beginning of the film as the compelling characters of the two girls meet. You don’t get too far through until it’s clear that the film speaks for Palestinians.

The horror in this film really lies in what is not said or shown. It acts as a ghostly backdrop to the film. It’s unspoken but any audience member with context of Palestine can hear the bombs fall in the background or see the ghosts of the thousands of children who Israel has killed in the eyes of the protagonists.

It is with urgency I suggest you see this film.

It reminds us of the complex history and culture of Palestine, the horror of what has been lost and, how essential it is we continue to fight Israel’s occupation.

A House in Jerusalem is currently screening at Picturehouse and Vue cinemas and at the Barbican cinema in London

A chance to watch films from across the Arab world

The Safar Film Festival is an opportunity to watch over 50 films from across the Arab world. Running until 30 June, the film festival has screenings in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, London, Hull, Liverpool, Oxford, and Plymouth.

The programme includes a screening of Palestinian short films on Sunday, 30 June, at the Barbican Cinema in London. There will also be a two-part series of screenings of Sudanese archive film called A Visit To Vanguard.

It will show footage from the Sudanese Film Group, formed in 1989 by Ibrahim Shaddad, Altayeb Mahdi and Suleiman El Nour.

For tickets go to

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