"World Cinema: Israel"

My book, "World Cinema: Israel" (originally published in 1996) is available from Amazon on "Kindle", with an in-depth chapter comparing and analyzing internationally acclaimed Israeli films up to 2010.

Want to see some of the best films of recent years? Just scroll down to "best films" to find listings of my recommendations.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Deadly Honour

Deadly Honour is a documentary film by Lipika Pelham who tells the story of multiple honor killings of young women in Arab society. The film is narrated by Salma, a 15-year-old girl, who has seen many of her friends and cousins killed during the past 10 years. She lives in the neighborhood of Juarish, a neglected and run-down neighborhood of the Israeli city of Ramleh, which is a mixed Palestinian and Jewish city not far from the airport.

When her close friend Rana is killed, she remembers others in her clan who have been killed – Naifeh, Sabreen, Karima, Zeenat, Sharihan, Amira and Sara. She talks about the code of silence in the neighborhood, in the family and in her school and she is surprised that after Rana is killed, life carries on as if nothing has happened.

The imam says these family honor killings were a Bedouin tradition from pre-Islamic times. But Salma is a smart girl and she can't imagine that the Bedouin killed their teenage daughters when they were nomads in the desert. She explains that her clan settled in Ramleh in 1948 when they came from the Negev.

Samiya is from another clan and she survived an attempt on her life. Having left Juarish and living independently in Haifa, she was attacked by men wearing masks who shot her from very close range. She is still partially paralyzed and walks with a limp.

Salma asks, why are our brothers, our mothers, our teachers, our mullahs living in a conspiracy of silence? Not until the body of another girl is found in a well does a group of women finally agree to break the code of silence and speak up. They testify in court.

But how will these women be protected? Hamda offers testimony and is sent to a women's shelter for protection. But she is lonely and she decides to return home to her mother where she is shot and killed by her brother. He is implicated by his own mother who says she will never forgive him for what he has done.

These are the stories of the Arab women of Juarish, a neighborhood of Ramleh, a town in the center of Israel. The voice of Salma in the film is based on true stories.

The film (58 minutes, 2009) is available from Ruth Diskin Films.

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