Annemarie Jacir: Cinema As An Act Of Love!

18 May 2022

Of course, our cinema is older than the state that occupies us. It’s a cinema that I’m proud to be part of. And over its many decades, it has continued to be a cinema in which we create our own freedom. 

Palestinian filmmakers have managed to break through the constraints that control our lives and imagine worlds where anything is possible. It is also a cinema where we have explored our own lives, our local heroes, and real-life stories. Where we have both critiqued our own society and celebrated our persistence. 

Sometimes I wonder how much things have changed over the last twenty years. 

I remember a moment in our lives… It was 2001, the height of the second Intifada, and Elia Suleiman, Hany Abu-Assad, and I found ourselves coincidentally in the same hotel with our crews each working on our new films. The violence around us was overwhelming and debilitating. Yet it was through cinema that we could find our own ways to resist those attacks, resist being erased and silenced. 

It was during those years that we built a local crew for the first time and found ways to collaborate and lift each other up. All across Palestine, filmmakers picked up cameras, found new ways to tell stories, and wrote our collective story. In 2004, when we put together the Dreams of a Nation film festival, which screened Palestinian films in cities and villages across Palestine, it was truly stunning to see the number of experimental, documentary, and fiction films that existed, showcasing the voices of more than 40 Palestinian filmmakers.

For me personally, cinema remains a celebration of life and an act of love. It is a space where I can imagine a place without borders. A place where I find poetry and where the imagination can reign without any constraints.


About Annemarie Jacir:

Annemarie Jacir is a Palestinian filmmaker who was born in Bethlehem. She is a prominent director, writer, and producer who is best known best for her feature films, SALT OF THIS SEA (2008), WHEN I SAW YOU (2012) and WAJIB (2017), all of which were selected as Palestine’s Oscar entry in their respective years for the Foreign Language Film category. Two of her films have premiered as Official Selections in Cannes, one in Berlin, and in Venice, Locarno, Rotterdam, Toronto and Telluride. 

Her short film LIKE TWENTY IMPOSSIBLES (2003) was the first Arab short film in history to be an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival and continued to break ground when it went on to be a finalist for the Academy Awards. Her second film, the critically acclaimed SALT OF THIS SEA (2008), garnered fourteen international awards, including the FIPRESCI Critics Award. It was the first feature film directed by a Palestinian woman.

Her film WHEN I SAW YOU won Best Asian Film at the Berlinale, Best Arab Film in Abu Dhabi, and Best Film at the Amiens, Phoenix, and Olympia film festivals. The film was also nominated at the Asian Pacific Screen Awards. In 2018, she returned to the Cannes Film Festival, this time joining the Un Certain Regard jury and also triumphing at the Arab Critics Awards, scooping the awards for both Best Film and Best Screenplay for her father-son drama WAJIB.

In 1997, Annemarie co-founded Philistine Films, an independent production company that aims to support new voices through its platform dedicated to emerging independent Arab filmmakers. She is a board member of Palestine Cinema Days.