Award-winning filmmaker keeps stories of Palestine alive

Between Heaven and Earth
Between Heaven and Earth movie poster. (Photo: Facebook)
AMMAN — "Cinema is a kind of private conversation that tells a story, and I try to tell stories of Palestine. Today’s Palestinian cinema is a way of documenting and dating what the occupation is trying to erase," said Palestinian filmmaker Najwa Najjar.اضافة اعلان

An undated photo of Najwa Najjar. (Photo: IMDB)

Najjar is a Jordanian Palestinian filmmaker who lives in the occupied Palestinian territories, and uses cinema to tell stories of her land, people and history. As she says, “the Palestinian cinema of today is a portfolio of the legacy of future generations; it must therefore be supported and developed. It is a powerful weapon in the difficult living conditions we live in Palestine”.

Najjar’s prized films — short documentaries, fiction and features — count among them "Naim and Wadee'a” (1999), “Quintessence of Oblivion" (2000), "A Boy Named Mohamed" (2002), “Blue Gold” (2004), “They Came from the East”; “Yasmine Tughani” (2006) is her first work of fiction.

Between Heaven and Earth movie poster. (Photo: Facebook)

Najjar’s debut film was “Pomegranates and Myrrh” (2009); it was followed by “Eyes of a Thief“ (2014), which was selected  as the Palestinian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards.

In 2019, Najjar, produced her third feature, “Between Heaven and Earth”, which follows the love story of a middle-class couple. According to Najjar, the story deals with the children of martyrs and their lives after the assassinations by the occupying forces, and raises the issue of arbitrary assassination of prominent politicians, intellectuals and militants, and how the lives of their families are turned upside down inside and outside Palestine.

The film takes the viewer to forgotten villages and occupied cities, tackles lost identity and divorce, makes one move between past and present, and takes the audience to the land associated with the three monotheistic religions, turning to a political cause and the reality of a monstrous occupation and land, an abandoned population and an identity that the occupier wants to obliterate by any means.

Between Heaven and Earth movie poster. (Photo: Facebook)

Najjar, who sees the fracture of her country as a wound to the heart, will then stage a road movie that leads a couple who left for the Occupied Territories to get their divorce papers to rediscover their land as well as to discover themselves.

Najjar, who studied filmmaking in the US, was aware that the story told in Western books is not the same as the one handed down by her parents and grandparents.

“It is the cinema that has helped me rectify the narrative of the region so that the truth is not truncated or disfigured. Because it is the only medium that can correct everything. Threatened for years for different reasons (religion, culture, social class), the fighter, despite the curse that falls on this piece of land, on the entire region, does not lose hope.”

In her films, Najjar tell Palestinian stories inspired from reality, people’s ordinary lives under extraordinary circumstances, lives that have been overlooked.

Between Heaven and Earth movie poster. (Photo: Facebook)

As one of few female Palestine film directors, Najjar believes that the social and the political intersect in her films, since they cannot be separated.
After presenting several documentaries, Najjar found in fictional films creativity, as she gives her movie characters depth and make them live looking for love and hope at every corner.

Her upcoming film project will be titled “Kiss of a stranger.” It will be a musical reflecting the golden age of Egyptian cinema of the 1930s.

Najjar digs deep into the corridors of memory of Palestinians; penetrating deep into the soul, she uses simplified cinematic language, simplifying the narration, deconstructing and documenting without abandoning the artistic vocabulary, and keeps Palestine and Palestinians the main protagonists of her productions. 

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