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In competition: "The Time That Remains" by Elia Suleiman

About the film:
With the Competition feature The Time That Remains, Elia Suleiman is back on the Croisette two years after participating in the Out-of-Competition collective film, To Each his Own Cinema. This time the Palestinian director, who was on the Jury in 2006 and who received the Jury Prize for  Divine Intervention in 2002, brings to audiences a sort of autobiography in four chapters revolving around his family, from 1948 until recent times. Mixing his own memories with those of his parents, The Time That Remains portrays the daily life of those Palestinians who remained and were labelled Israeli-Arabs, living as a minority in their homeland.

"My films are inspired by my everyday life. When you live in a sensitive area like my country, politics are simply a part of life,” related Elia Suleiman. “It happens that Palestine has been subject to overexposure in the media which has left it open to ideologues on the Left and the Right. I felt my challenge was to deviate from this simplistic approach by making a film in which there is no history lesson to be learned. I focussed on moments of intimacy of a family, hoping for nothing more than to give pleasure to the audience and to achieve a certain cinematic truth. If this should trigger a feeling of involvement with the political dimension, the audience can go to a bookshop or the library – instead of watching TV – and learn more about the lives of the characters that have moved them."

Press conference:
Palestinain director Elia Suleiman, presenting his feature The Time That Remains in Competition, gave a press conference about the film today. Selected excerpts.

Elia Suleiman on the meaning of the title:
"The Time That Remains is linked to the narrative of the film, it's linked to the narrative of the global situation that we live in. It is linked to the very personal story that the film tells. The subtitle of the film [Arab-Israelis] is a political term that describes the Palestinians who remained on their own land, who were considered as absentees while they lived on their own land after 1948. So it's a very political term, but I appropriated it at the same time, also in a personal context, which is from my personal context of being a present and an absentee person myself, somebody who is an outsider and an insider, somebody who does not live in one place but always departs and – I wouldn't even use the term now – returns. And I think this is the character in the film, the narrator in the film, which is myself. So the chronicle of a present absentee actually has the double meaning, and so does "The Time That Remains," which talks about the state of the world, not from a political perspective per se, but from a very personal point of view."

Elia Suleiman on political pressure on him:
"Of course, being a Palestinian is always a challenge, how to deviate from being categorized as such, and how you always try to free yourself from talking about Palestine as a geopolitical specificity rather than making a cinematic film with a universal message… You don't want to present "one truth," because history is debatable. I am interested in composing a cinematic image with a certain choreography and a certain movement, and a lot of sounds, and to actually engage the viewer and with the pleasure of that image… Sometimes pressure works for your own good, to actually become more sincere and more truthful for what it is you want to tell. So the pressure has the effect of a sauna, you know. You sweat it out, but you come back with certain tools, and strategies, and a decision that you make for yourself, that you want to be more and more honest, and more sincere."

Elia Suleiman on the fact that the songs are not subtitled:
"One has to be cautious not to fall into any sort of anthropological study. Your whole energy is how to make that which is untranslatable a language for all. Cinema has that magic. Why come and destroy that by doing the same thing to music, which is the most universal language of all? The fact that you put a song that which is not translated is just giving all your faith to the listener who will understand every single word without knowing the language, if they love the song. If you want to know the specific meaning of the words, it's very easy: a lot of people have dictionaries, friends, they can even get the translation off the Internet. However, I think that it would have been a big mistake to translate the song, because everybody would be looking for a content, a specific content in the song, and there is no specific content."

Elia Suleiman on whether he is influenced by Jacques Tati:
"Ever since my first film, I never saw the films of Tati or Buster Keaton. Now I absolutely adore the films of Tati, but you can also expect sometimes that in this big world and with so many people doing art and films, that it's bound to happen that certain filmmakers can have a similar sensitivity… It is bound to happen that certain styles are common from different parts of the world, and not necessarily from the same culture. I see the resemblance, and I can trace it as a spectator many times, but no, I'm not someone who's influenced… I mean, I'm more influenced by Primo Levi than I am by Tati, and he's not even a filmmaker."

Comments (1)

Palestinian films and their sufferings

To all my brothers in humanity
God bless you and give you good health and good future
Palestine will remain for Palestinians , all Jews in the Zionist entity should start from this day to evacuate the Palestinian land and go back to their original countries in Europe : Russia , Germany , Poland , France , England etc .
Palestine never and never was their country . They are forging the history of the whole world , because they are the most liars in the whole world . Every Jew is staying in the house of a Palestinian in Palestine or he is staying on a Palestinian land . Now there is no justice especially from the Western Governments . They are torturing Palestinians for the last 100 years with their Jewish partners . It is disgrace on the whole world community . They have not done any thing for solving the conflict since 100 years . They are adding oil on the conflict so that fire will continue killing Palestinian children and Palestinian lives like Gaza Holocaust and Jenin Holocaust practiced by Jewish army .
Since 100 years and Jews are killing Palestinians daily . They are besieged , not allowed to live normal life . Thousand of Palestinian buildings destroyed by Jews . Hundreds of Palestinian Houses of worship destroyed . They are like rats digging under the most important house of worship since 1967 till now . You humans from any religion , what you will feel if somebody from other religions digs under your church or temple , what you will do ? . The Jews have divided one famous house of worship for Palestinians in Hebron into two parts . One division for Jews and the other for Palestinians and it is under their control . This is few things about the Jews torture . The whole world is silent and they are siding the Jews . They are siding the Injustice . There is no Peace and security in Palestine at all . Poverty prevails . Palestinians are deprived from their basic rights .
Please , I request all free countries to help solve our problem to join the United Nation as a free country . God bless you all .

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