Rashid Masharawi

26 / 03 / 02
Screening / Discussion

Rashid Masharawi (Palestine)

Live from Palestine, (2002) Docu. 57 min.
Dir. Rashid Masharawi

The Shelter, (1989) Fiction
Dir. Rashid Masharawi.

Rashid Masharawi

Live from Palestine


"There are those who are trying to make from the cinema a Palestinian situation. What I am trying to do, is make out of the Palestinian situation a cinema."

haus.0 presents an evening of films and discussion with the well-known Palestinian filmmaker Rashid Masharawi. Born 1962 in Shatii refugee camp and now living in Ramallah, Palestine, Rashid Masharawi has over the past twenty years developed a body of work which maps out the position of the refugee in terms of a spatial politics of everyday life under occupation, from the first Intifada to the era of the Peace Process and onwards. Masharawi’s methodology can be seen to reflect on the production of space. This includes features (Rabab, a feature on violence against women in camps, developed through a film workshop, Haifa - which received numerous international festival prizes including Cannes) and documentaries. Parallel with these he initiated and is running the Cinema Production Center in Ramallah, which serves as a cultural meeting point and offers production facilities and the chance for learning film methodology. As well, he founded the Mobile Cinema which each year travels to refugee camps to screen films.

haus.0 invites Masharawi to discuss the different facets of his work in link with a screening of the documentary Live from Palestine (2002) and the feature film Haifa (1998). (NOTE: A last minute program change brought Haifa to be replaced by a rare screening of Masharawi's early short feature, Shelter)

Live from Palestine initially took shape as a documentation on the Voice of Palestine radio station located within Masharawai's own neighborhood, and wound up witness to its destruction. The film follows both within the editorial and production process and journalists daily reportage, thus showing the relation between community and sender, and the belief in the right for a communication media to exist without harassment - from all sides. The radio director places much importance on not falling into the trap that they are all 'only talking to themselves'. A palpable tension can be felt throughout the film. In one sudden instance, a Palestinian Authority building near the station director's home is destroyed by Israeli Forces bombing the site.

After the documentary was completed and arranged to be sent to festivals, Israeli forces occupied the radio station, set up explosives in each room and destroyed the building. Masharawi returned with a cameraman to the still smoldering building, adding a coda by observing the same people who were working in the original film, now confronting the ruins of their working place, a silenced radio station.

Haifa (1995) the recepient of a number of international film prizes including Cannes, is an engaging story about a community in a refugee camp and of a central figure, the character Haifa. As Masharawi states, Haifa was meant to be a metaphor for a unique type of disorientation that reflects the director’s own attempts to make sense of the Peace Process then underway.

In this period it became clear that refugee camp issues of ‘return’ are no longer the first on the discussion table - which forces each refugee in a camp to wonder what is the ground they stand on, literally and in reality, the time and space of a future and past. As with much of Masharawi's work, the tone of this actual moment is balanced by observing how community and family offer interlinked stories, tales of change and transition and possible different futures where sons and daughters imagine other possibilities than what arranged marriages and gender may dictate.

Masharawi's features have scripts with clear but complex interrelations, which convey the sense of an open, layered, dynamic space that is momentarily composed as if to be read like a diagram. It contrasts to the fixed limits found either in the director's chosen story setting or for example, the actual restriction for film shooting, movement, etc.

In his feature films, individual narratives are conflated with geography to suggest the space and time of unique collective situations. Thus Curfew is taking place in the hours upon days of imposed spatial restrictions; in Haifa the situation is of making way somehow in the new disorienting logic of the 'Peace Process'; and in his recently completed third feature film A Ticket to Jerusalem, - a narrative pilgrammage between two points in time, a ticket to a journey made by a cinema projectionist working in Palestine who takes on the goal of screening Palestinian films in Jerusalem.