Balconies: an object of occupation

The opening scene of Kamal Aljafari’s film Port of Memory (2009) starts "with a long tracking shot of a grand, decaying house at twilight. The camera lingers on the skin of this structure that bears traces of other times and previous inhabitations. The footage feels like a memorial for a building that may not live much longer: we see a floorboard of what was once a balcony, recesses where there were stairs, and the remnants of plaster crenelations above cinder-blocked windows" as Sadia Shirazi describes.

She goes on her review of the film saying that the film pairs the incremental expropriation of Palestinian property in Jaffa with the foreclosure of Palestinian residents from the city’s cinematic history. When  interviewed, Aljafari referred to this as the “cinematic occupation of Jaffa.” In another interview, he explains: “the film is very much about place, being excluded from it, about being there and not being there at the same time. I know these buildings will vanish from reality, so at least I have them in my film. And [through] cinema…with framing and by shooting something for a long time, you can claim it.

This  is very much related to reclamation of places and things as Aljafari says in an interview with him. He tells a story that happened to him a couple of years ago while he was filming a short miniature in his father’s hometown Ramleh. He was filming raw unfinished balconies when suddenly a young Israeli guy appeared and stood just behind his back. The guy waited and waited until he became impatient. He asked Aljafari: what are you filming? he said, the balconies. the Israeli guy said: “you see all these balconies, they are mine.” Obviously, the balconies were much older than him, Aljafari says.  
Aljafari describes his film Balconies as an experimental meditation focusing on the deteriorating and unfinished balconies of his home town Ramleh, inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca's Romance Sonambulo, "But now I am not I, nor is my house now my house..."

No comments:

Post a Comment


The people from the barrio built the city twice: during the day we built the houses of the well-off. At night and at weekends, with solidarity, we built our own homes, our barrio.

  —Andrés Antillano, resident of Caracas, April 15, 2004