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Still LIfe cover photo

Still LIfe 2007

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242

Directed by Diana Allan
DVD, color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Aging, Anthropology, Area Studies, Biography, Photography

Date Entered: 11/23/2016

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

When a young fisherman from Acre, was exiled from his home in 1948, he became one of hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by the partition of Palestine by the United Nations. Sixty years later, Said Ismael Otruk is in Sidon, Lebanon, where he describes his youth and the impact the Nakba exodus had on him and his family.

Using a handful of black and white photographs Otruk kept from this period to guide interaction, anthropologist and filmmaker Allan asks the elderly man to talk about what he remembers. In the style of other Sensory Ethnography Lab films, the subject and an off-screen translator provide the only narration while the camera captures environmental sights and sounds occurring near the interviewee. Partly an oral history and partly a photographic study of the effects of memory on personal history, the film is about Otruk’s perceived memories rather than of the historical events at which he was present.

At 25 minutes, the film is short but, at that, slow moving. While the intent of discussing the effects of memory with sensory techniques has value, particularly to anthropologists, with no historical or explanatory context general viewers may have difficulty with recognizing the films merits.