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Film Review: Between Heaven and Earth

A Palestinian couple are forced to deal with their relationship and a betrayel after a family secret emerges

In “Between Heaven and Earth” a couple must deal with a betrayal after learning a family secret. (Handout from Najwa Najjar)
In “Between Heaven and Earth” a couple must deal with a betrayal after learning a family secret. (Handout from Najwa Najjar)
AMMAN — A Palestinian movie called “Between Heaven and Earth” and directed by Najwa Najjar, recently premiered in Amman. The movie tracks the story of two Palestinians and their struggle in life and the occupation.اضافة اعلان

Najjar, who received her Bachelor’s in Political Science and Economics, and Master’s in Film/Video Production in the US, began her career making commercials and has worked in both documentary and fiction since 2000.

“Between Heaven and Earth” is a drama that first premiered in 2019. It was shot in Palestine and filming only took 24 days. "I insisted to film the whole movie in Palestine, and to allow kids to see the Palestine that their families and parents were deprived of," Najjar told Jordan News.

The inspiration for the movie began in a falafel shop in Haifa, when the owner told Najjar about his son refusing a scholarship to London because he guarded a destroyed village called Iqrit from Israeli settlers.

The director said that she felt ashamed because she had never heard of Iqrit before. So, she arranged a trip to the village, which was 3km away from the Lebanese border, but not showing on Google maps.

"After 10 hours of driving, my partner saw a church on the road, we stopped there and a young woman and two men who were forced out of Iqrit greeted us and told us how their grandparents had watched the destruction of their village," Najjar said.

"People were living in dark times there, but I still saw hope and love in Iqrit," she said, adding that she decided to write a story and spread awareness about those who guard villages like Iqrit.

The film focuses on two main characters that are getting a divorce: Salma and Tamer  played by Mouna Hawa and Firas Nassar.

It is a fictional movie, but it’s based on true political events about Palestine. It tells stories that people are not familiar with; stories that happen inside Palestine but never make it out.

"It is super beautiful to tell our stories as the Arab world in general and Palestine particularly in our way and language," Najjar said.

The couple, Salma and Tamer, are around 30 years old, and have been married for five years in the Palestinian Territories before they decide to get a divorce.

Tamer is the son of a famous intellectual revolutionary killed in Beirut, and when he gets permission to obtain a three-day permit to cross Israeli checkpoints and go to the city of Nazareth to complete divorce procedures, the couple learn a secret about Tamer’s father’s past.

After that, they embark on a journey in which they explore themselves and the loss and betrayal they face.

The couple still feels that they have a lot of things in common and their story acts as a metaphor for the conflict happening in the Middle East. "The story touches on the conflict, the history, and the love for Palestine at the same time," Najjar added.

One of Najjar's goals in the movie was to show how Israel is trying to separate Palestine from other Arab countries, "they are trying to divorce us from each other," she said.

Moreover, the film’s music draws from singers all over the Arab world, to add an essence of unity.

The staff also faced many challenges filming in the Palestinian Territories. "We faced many difficulties while shooting, and four of the staff were arrested, but happily we got through everything together," Najjar said. “Moving between the Palestinian Territories while filming was difficult.”

The film, which won first place at the 2019 Cairo International Film Festival (2019) and many other awards, is currently playing at Baraka mall.

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