Farah Nabulsi is a member of that band of unexceptional, and therefore exceptional, Palestinian women who are courageous but not unusual among the strong female fighters highlighting the grave injustices meted out to the Palestinians for almost 70 years. Like Hanan Zoabi the only woman Palestinian member of the Knesset who came to the UK last month, and Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO whom Farah met recently in New York and who endorses her films, Farah has no choice but to make Palestine her cause.
The daughter of Palestinian parents, Farah has come a long way from her upbringing in London, moving on from her banking career and personal business in Dubai to become an accomplished short film maker., with no intention of making her soul-searching over Palestine, into films. It was her personal emotional journey, but It was during and after her actual journeys to the West Bank , when she started to write.
‘We cannot know the true suffering of the Palestinians until we go there and open our eyes and our souls and really see through the murkiness of it all.” .’
In a relatively short space of time, Farah has made three films.
‘It took from mid 2015 when I began the process of making the films to April 2016. I started in Dubai where I filmed Oceans of Injustice, an experimental film, mostly in a swimming pool, with people swimming endlessly against the tide, a metaphor for the Palestinians.’
‘I went to Palestine with my westerner’s hat on, like a tourist initially. , It would have been easy to keep that hat on but at the same time I felt compelled to dig deeper and truly understand the circumstances of the Palestinians through their eyes. I tried to understand through questions in Arabic and English, speaking to taxi drivers, going to checkpoints to see what was going on, even my husband was taken aside for questioning. In short, I was appalled.t It seemed there was nothing I could do to stop anything that was going on, to stop the deterioration. I was humbled and upset trying to figure out what I could do. I begun writing pieces therapeutically, to deal with what I had witnessed and understood of what has and continues to happen in Palestine, crying and bawling my eyes out and that is when I wrote Oceans of Injustice.’
The words nightmare and Gaza crop up frequently as we sit in the Palestinian Restaurant, Tabun, in the heart of London’s Soho. Farah talks expressively, and movingly, gesticulating , hands and arms moving in and out in waves, like the sea in her film Oceans of Injustice.
‘I make my films to engage people, I construct the Palestinina narrative in my own way that hopes to speak to people’s hearts. Unless you do that, even if you have all the facts and figures in the world, they will not hear you. .’
We soon discover how she grabs us and rips out our emotions while watching her second short film, The Nightmare of Gaza, which contains nothing but a blank screen and her passionate voice, intoning and intoning as in the short space of 28 hours bombs fell unceasingly on Gaza in 2008/9. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. For those of us who have been activists for Palestine from as early as we can remember, there were no images she could show us that could replace the horrors we have witnessed time and time again, the images were right in our heads. Farah’s powerful words of the immeasurable suffering during Operation Cast Lead, when Israel proudly pounded to death more than 2000 Palestinians, including 520 children, grab us by the heartstrings.
‘I want to deconstruct the occupation so people in the West will be able to understand it better. Otherwise, if you hvent lived occupation, what does it really mean to someone in the West? How would they be able to understadn the grievences of Palestinians and what it is they suffer day in and day out. When you deconstruct there is just more and more and more. A whole ‘Ocean of Injustice.’
She goes on. ‘I now have two scripts ready for my next two films, which will take some time as there is the inevitable budgeting, and marketing issues. . I choose short films as there is so much to tell. They are faster to produce than feature films and allow for an ongoing advocacy, as I hope to make a series of shorts. I will be launching my first film online on May 15th from the UKs.’
Today They Took My Son was filmed in Lebanon as the director would not be allowed to enter Palestine by Israel. The terrifying scenes of a child being taken away and tortured, are nothing new, we know how a Palestinian feels, every day, not knowing if a child will come home from school.
‘What if that were my child?’ wonders Farah. ‘We think we know, and we think we feel with thems and we think we understand the injustice, but we are merely dipping our toes into the gentle tide of this colossal injustice,’she says, quoting a line from her first film.
Farah has journeyed within and without since visiting Palestine in 2013. It is a personal journey which has changed her life, and we are privileged to share her journeys.
Written by Pamela Hardyment