Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Now, we have been to more films lately than the blog would suggest, so it's clearly time to write about some. Wellington had a Middle Eastern festival in early September called the Date Palm Festival and we went several movies. The best one, I think, was Private. This is the story of a Palestinian family (Mum, Dad and five kids) who live on a hill in the West Bank, situated between an Israeli settlement and a refugee camp. Their two-storey house wouldn't win any architectural awards, being an un-preposessing concrete block box but it is a very nice home inside with all mod cons. Dad is a school headmaster and drives the kids to school in the Mercedes everyday.

The Israeli army decide to occupy the family home because of its strategic position and they take over the top floor, while allowing the family the live on the ground floor. At night, they lock the family into the lounge to sleep, and let them out again in the morning. They aren't allowed visitors, but during the day can come and go fairly freely.

The family dynamics in this movie are just great, and so is watching how each family member deals with the situations. Mum (who is alone in the house during the day with half a dozen soldiers overhead) is dying to move out. By contrast, staunch Dad would rather die than move out. Middle son arranges to move in with one of his schoolmates in the refugee camp but his father forbids it. Oldest son toys with planting a grenade in their makeshift garden greenhouse which the Israelis keep demolishing. Oldest daughter argues with her parents about their plan to send her to med school in Germany, because she'd rather "stay and fight" in Palestine. Littlest son is devastatingly cute and he struggles to understand what is going on.

Watching this film really makes you think about the different levels of publicity human rights violations get, depending on where and when in history they take place. There have been dozens of movies which feature anti-semitic atrocities in WWII, but until recently I'd never seen a movie which involved Israelis maltreating Palestinians. So, Private is well-acted, suspenseful and provides food for thought.

Anne's rating 4/5 Ian's rating 4/5

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