Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Elia Suleiman (Evening Lecture)

Elia Suleiman, for his evening lecture, gave us the rare chance to view his newest film The Time That Remains. As he put it, "fresh out the oven, it just came from Cannes."

This film is not a "political" film in the sense that it insists on someone (or some group) being right or wrong. It is a film that is largely biographical, based on the letters of Suleiman's father starting in 1948 (when Israel became a nation). This is the story of a Palestinian Israeli family, but it is very much Seuliman's family and belongs perhaps more to films such as The Royal Tennenbaums in terms of its humor.

And it is a humorous film; how can any serious treatment of a family not be seriously funny?

"This is the first time I adopted the period of 1948; it is very much my father's story," as Suleiman told us after the film. "To avoid the presumption, or arrogance, of knowing what I was filming I had to stay very close to the texts," his father's letters, "because I do not know what it was like to live during that time."

This film is absolutely stunning in its love and its eye for the beauty of being alive; even when we wish we were dead (or that everyone else was dead).

I cannot recommend this film highly enough.

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