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Sometimes the price is very high – and sometimes it’s not

Jerusalem24 – Veteran filmmaker and producer Marwah Tibi shares with us on Wake Up Palestine the drive and passion behind her work; the challenges she encounters as a Palestinian filmmaker under occupation and the steep price her work can entail; and how a little creativity and administrative budgeting could go a long way in securing the future of Palestinian filmmaking on a global scale.

Marwah is the author and/or producer of many important Palestinian works, including the award-winning Battle Proven, Abbas 36, and The Bride’s Dress.

Below is a partial transcript of our interview with Marwah.

  • On terminology in storytelling, and why it matters:

That was one of the main reasons I decided to do my own production company, to do my own films, to do my own stories – in my way and with my terminology.

Today, one week after Gaza, I can tell you that the problem with terminology isn’t just with the international media: it’s actually with the Palestinian media and with the Arab media. I felt really angry to hear the way that Palestinian journalists described the checkpoint of Erez as a crossing. It’s not a crossing, a border: Gaza is under occupation. You cannot speak of Gaza – or Ramallah – as an entity by itself. You cannot call Qalandiya checkpoint a “crossing”. You cannot call Erez a “crossing”. […]

It’s really important. When you are able to write your own film, to use your own terminology […] you’re actually making the decision of shaping the knowledge. And this is the beauty of being the producer of your own film, the writer of your own film, the director of your own film, and this is how we tell our own story: with our terminology.

  • On the challenges of being a Palestinian filmmaker in Palestine:

If there are no challenges in the day, it will be a surprising day. And so I got used to that. And it actually makes the work more beautiful, more strong, more– you feel that it is really important to do what you’re doing because actually someone plans to stop you, someone is trying to make it difficult for you. […]

I am a mother of four kids, but I lost a few times a pregnancy because of my work. Like going to Gaza back and forth, I lost my second baby. […] So sometimes the price is very high. […]

The answer is to continue working, not to allow anyone to break you.

  • On challenging portrayals of victimhood:

I really hate addressing the world saying “the poor Palestinians” – no, no, no. We are the strong Palestinians who are fighting for their rights. And this is my approach in my films. This is how I address the world. Telling strong stories about strong Palestinians that are trying to have a normal life with a lot of dignity.

  • On the potential future of foreign productions (and co-productions) in Palestine:

You know, Palestine is very beautiful. Palestine has the desert, and the sea, and the mountains. It could be very good for producers to come and do films here. But actually we are not putting a lot of effort into this now. […]

This is something that the Palestinian Cultural Ministry is supposed to do, the Palestinian Tourism Ministry is supposed to do. The Palestinian Communications Ministry also can do a lot about this. I’ve even been approaching the Palestinian Cultural Ministry about co-production: why don’t they have co-productions? […]

Co-production would allow Palestinian filmmakers and producers to cooperate with filmmakers from all over the world. […] We have an agreement with Britain and with France – but we don’t have one with Canada or the United States, or most of Europe and most of the Americas. […]

It’s a must. It’s a must. It’s a way of allowing Palestinian filmmakers to do more films. […] So this is something that really we have to highlight, we have to invest in. […] It’s a little administrative work, nothing more, that can allow Palestinian filmmakers, really, to do more.

  • On new Israeli legislation requiring content providers such as Netflix to reinvest a portion of their profits accrued in Israel into Israeli content production:

Yeah, so if I was the Palestinian Communications Minister, I would do that. I would address Netflix and say okay, you need our area, you need to push your films in our area, great! But yalla, let’s have end results, let’s speak about content, let’s speak about supporting, about doing more films with Palestinian producers and filmmakers.

So I think this has to be the approach. To do a lot of action in different areas, to put work into Palestinian filmmaking, to do more and more. […]

Yalla, please! It’s very important. It’s not costing any money, it’s not costing any budget. It’s just administrative work, just management, just creativity. And we will be in a different place in terms of the filmmaking in Palestine.

Listen to the full interview below.


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