Elia Suleiman

Elia Suleiman

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7 Days In Havana Review


OK
There's plenty of colour and culture in this anthology, which could have been titled La Habana Te Amo, to match the similarly uneven Paris Je T'Aime and New York I Love You. It has moments of artistic inventiveness, but barely breaks the surface.

On Monday, an American (Hutcherson) moves to Havana to start film school, connecting with a friend (Cruz) who takes him for a night on the town. Tuesday, filmmaker Kusturica arrives to accept an award, then escapes to a jazz club with his driver (Abreu). Wednesday, a Spaniard (Bruhl) tries to recruit a Cuban singer (Estevez) to work in Europe, but her baseball-player boyfriend (Benitez) has other plans. Thursday, a Palestinian (Suleiman) struggles to make sense of the local culture. Friday, a teen (Herrera) is put through a ritual to cure her lesbian tendencies. Saturday, a woman (Ibarra) tries to hold her family together by working two high-pressure jobs. And Sunday, a woman (Amore) obeys the Virgin and gets her family to install a pond in her sitting room.

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Picture - Elia Suleiman , Wednesday 23rd May 2012

Elia Suleiman Wednesday 23rd May 2012 Photocall for '7 Dias En La Habana' (7 Days in Havana) during the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival

The Time That Remains Review


OK
This collection of vignettes tracing the aftermath of Israel's creation in 1948 is deeply personal and often surprisingly funny. But it's so specific and artful that it's also rather impossible for non-Israelis to understand.

When Israel "liberates" Nazareth, one Arab family quietly stands firm. Young husband Fuad (Bakri) makes guns as part of the resistance and is constantly harassed by Jewish militia, while his wife (Qudha Tanus, then Bajjali) tries to make life as normal as possible for their young son Elia (Hanna, Espanioli, then Suleiman). Over the years the situation changes, but their home remains constant, as do their colourful neighbours. And for every act of violence, there are at least five absurd events that keep things in perspective.

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Divine Intervention Review


Excellent
Welcome to Nazareth. A man dressed as Santa Claus is pursued up and down its hills by a swarm of angry children, bleeding profusely from a knife wound. Such is the opening of Elia Suleiman's bitterly dark Divine Intervention, a series of sketches (the director refers to them as "gags" or "burlesques") portraying Israeli-Palestinian tensions. It's worth noting that the director is Palestinian, Nazareth is his hometown, the neighbors are portrayed as morose at best (and teetering on the brink of violence at worst), and the filmmaker portrays his surrogate self within the film, a character named E.S. The E.S. of the film is a poker-faced, silent presence, kept tiny within the wide-angle compositions of Suleiman the director. As Brit pop icon Morrissey might say, "I'm just passing through here / On my way to somewhere civilized / Maybe someday, I'll finally arrive."

The non-narrative storytelling references back to E.S., tending to his ailing father (Nayef Fahoum Daher) and meeting a beautiful Palestinian freedom fighter (Manal Khader) for unspoken hand-holding, seen discreetly on the Jerusalem border under the watchful eye of soldiers. If E.S. is the observer (he's too inactive to truly function as a conscience), he's also maybe the dreamer. His fantasies serve as comical outbursts, seamlessly interwoven into his mundane life. The freedom fighter transforms at one point into a cloaked ninja, beating the hell out of Israeli soldiers to a kitschy pop jingle. One of E.S.'s apricots also functions as a hand grenade, blowing up an enemy tank. A colorful balloon emblazoned with the picture of Yasser Arafat flies over an Israeli checkpoint unhindered. Any dream will do.

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