Courtisane 2017: Recollection (Kamal Aljafari, 2015)

Friday, March 31, 2017 - 22:15
Sphinx Cinema, Ghent


Recollection utilizes footage from Israeli films as raw material for exploring, reconstructing, and sharing the inaccessible history of his hometown Jaffa: “For many years, I have been collecting Israeli fiction films shot in Jaffa as early as 1960. These are films in which Palestinians are disappeared, yet also exist at the edge of frames, visible in traces. Preserved also is a city; alive again in moving images, its gradual destruction over the decades chronicled film by film. From the footage of dozens of films I have excavated a whole community and recreated the city. Though out-of-focus, half-glimpsed, I have recognized childhood friends, old people I used to say good evening to as a boy; my uncle. I erased the actors, I photographed the backgrounds and the edges; and made the passersby the main characters of this film. In my film, I find my way from the sea, like in a dream. I walk everywhere, sometimes hesitant and sometimes lost. I wander through the city; I wander through the memories. I film everything I encounter because I know it no longer exists. I return to a lost time.” (Kamal Aljafari)


In Kamal Aljafari’s new film Recollection, freedom is experienced in “the sound of the ocean…the echo you can hear outside but recorded from inside the wall. Life buried beneath, inside the sea.” As the images move slowly, other times brusquely, from a silhouette to a shadow, a sliver of the port city of Jaffa to another, the sound moves us into the present unearthing a past. We begin to see the ruins as breathing bodies. We see the place Palestinians have lived in and have been exiled from. And gradually we are brought face-to-face with history, with destruction. The phantoms stare at us. The filmmaker “frees the image,” an act he calls “cinematic justice.” 

From the introduction of ‘Kamal Aljafari: Unfinished Balconies in the Sea’, an interview with Kamal Aljafari by Nathalie Handal


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