Yesterday at the Jerusalem Film Festival, I went to see a Belgian film, Illegal (directed by Olivier Masset-Depasse) about a woman from Russia who is treated badly by the local police because she is an illegal worker. This was a compelling story about a mother and her teenage son and the trials that they undergo in trying to become accepted in their new surroundings. For some reason, this is a subject that has been really bothering me in recent years – as it becomes more and more of a human issue all over Europe, the United States, and certainly here in Israel.
The Israeli features of recent years that deal with foreign workers or visitors and the influence that they have had on us (all of which have been reviewed on this blog) include:
Foreign Sister (Dan Wolman)
James' Journey to Jerusalem (Ra'anan Alexandrowicz)
Noodle (Ayelet Menachemi)
Janem Janem (Haim Bouzaglo)
The Tale of Nicolai and the Law of Return (David Ofek)
Children by Remote Control (Nachum Landau)
A Palestinian film that deals with this subject of migration and trying to rebuild your life in a new country is My Father from Haifa by Palestinian-Danish filmmaker, Omar Shargawi. The film, which was screened this week at the Jerusalem Film Festival, is a particularly sensitive and personal look at a father-son relationship and at their journey to the childhood home of the filmmaker's father.
Omar Shargawi, won an award at the Rotterdam Film Festival (2008) with his debut film, a feature about the Arab community in Copenhagen, Go in Peace, Jamil.
Another film about Palestinians who have found their place abroad is Amreeka, directed by Cherien Dabis, about a mother and son who emigrate to Illinois to be with relatives. The film is about finding a place to call home, where we feel comfortable, where we can have friends, where our children will find happiness and educational opportunity.