Jenin Jenin and Since You Left 2002 (Jenin Jenin), 2005 (Since You Left)
Distributed by Distributed by Typecast Releasing, 3131 Western Ave., Suite 514, Seattle, WA 09121; 206-322-0882
Produced by Produced by Iyad Samudi and Mohammad Bakri
Directed by Directed by Mohammad Bakri
DVD, color, 88 min.
College - Adult
Japan, Popular Culture, Music Trade, Singers
Date Entered: 11/03/2010
Reviewed by: Reviewed by Malcolm L. Rigsby, Department of Sociology, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR
Jenin Jenin: Co-producer and director, Mohammad Bakri brings a haunting visualization of the inhumanity that resonates in our contemporary world. This film is an up-close walk with several of the inhabitants of Jenin, Palestine who on April 2, 2002 experienced the power of the Israeli Defense Forces as the IDF plowed into the city. Jenin, an ancient city of the region was captured by Israel in 1967 during the Six Day War. In 1996, as part of the Oslo Accords it has been part of the Palestinian National Authority. With the coming of the second intifada, the Israeli army considered Jenin a center for many activities labeled as terrorist in nature. This film takes you into the ravaged city in the weeks that followed the first two weeks of the IDF action. Bakri gives the viewer a firsthand opportunity to hear the voices of the survivors.
In 2002 the Israeli Film Censorship Board labeled Jenin Jenin terrorist propaganda and in turn, the film was outlawed in Israel until 2004 when the Supreme Court of Israel ruled in favor of Bakri’s law suit based upon issues of freedom of speech and expression. In 2003 a response film The Road to Jenin, directed by Pierre Rehov was produced and released. Bakri’s response to this censorship has been to seek what he calls portrayal of “reality.” If this is reality, we as citizens of the world must ask the central question how will these incidents play out in the futures of those currently undergoing these tragedies? What about the old who die or the middle aged who survive? Perhaps a more important consideration involves the children of Jenin. Several children speak out in this film reflecting a hardening of attitudes toward the Israelis. When destructive belief is verbalized it may become the will to act. When then put to action how can destructive momentum be stopped rather than perpetuated? One child remarks, we will “make a difference at any cost.” This young teen girl states that she will do what is necessary, indicating even more violence is called for. This causes the viewer to pause and contemplate how a peace between Palestine and Israel is possible when even the children begin to see the peace process as hopeless. Statements made by the townspeople ring out a call for humanity, when such statements as the following are made, “The Western world is more concerned when an animal gets killed than when a human being does.”
This film is expertly shot with fantastic visuals. It has excellent sound quality and an equally good music score. Viewing the film was enhanced by the numerous chapter sections. Segments may be easily marked and returned to for further discussion and review, making it a good classroom tool.
Accompanying this film is a short slide presentation by medical doctor, Dr. Riad Abdolkarim upon his return from Jenin refugee camp in 2002. It provides a vivid and heart-felt journey as he examines his experiences at Jenin in the days following the IDF action. We can hear the screams, and witness the pain as his story unfolds amidst the smells of death and carnage of this city. This film promotes an excellent opportunity for groups to consider how a factual occurrence may be portrayed in multiple ways. One suggestion is to view and discuss this film in tandem with Rehov’s film. Film classes may approach a critique from the standpoint of propaganda and media influences. Social Studies classes may consider the use of media as a means of political movement and conflict resolution. Historical contexts of news coverage in both the Middle East and the west may offer excellent opportunities to examine each films perspective.
Since You Left: This video is like a reflection on one’s life. Imagine that a dear loved friend has suddenly reappeared in your life after a ten-year absence. You find it perhaps somewhat awkward, yet eager to renew your loving relationship, you spring into a perhaps biographic rendition of your life. As you become more comfortable and the relationship comes back to reality you begin to share the enjoyable mementos of time past as well as the sharp cutting tragedies in your life experience. Your losses and victories are explored in context of the past relationship with your friend and the shared hurts and victories you experienced together. This video is perhaps Bakri’s finest introduction to Jenin Jenin.
Therefore, it is my suggestion to view Since You Left before you view Jenin Jenin. Since You Left will provide a deep understanding of the feelings of this fine director and assist in setting the stage for Jenin Jenin. Since You Left prepares us with an intimate walk with the man Mohammad Bakri as he reflects on life, death, friends, and the state of the Palestinian search for a community identity. Within this video Bakri is portrayed as friend, parent, sibling, child, actor, activist, and terrorist supporter. These various views of Bakri are somewhat defined in relation to the turbulence of the politics in the region known as Israel and Palestine. Events in his life build to a crescendo with the second intifada and the Netanya suicide bombing at the Park Hotel. Following these events there unfolds two defining tragedies that have shaped his life. Following the Netanya tragedy, Bakri’s nephew consummated a suicide bombing at Meiron, resulting in the Bakri family being labeled as terrorists. The second event was the April 2002 IDF action against the Jenin refugee camp. Since that time, Bakri’s life unfolds in relation to his struggle to remain at the foremost a Palestinian seeking to give a voice to the people of Jenin. Facing censorship of his film Jenin Jenin, he fights a two-year battle to bring these quieted voices to the Israeli people and the world.
*Note: These two video are available together on a single DVD, or as separate DVDs.
- Best Film, Carthage International Film Festival, 2002
- International Prize, Mediterranean Documentary Filmmaking & Reporting