Friday, October 4, 2013

EITHER ME...OR HAIFA: The Dispossession of Romance and Love

Directed by Shady Srour, EITHER ME..OR HAIFA is a short that deals with the separation and schism caused by the conflict in a uniquely human way.

Nabeel (Rabe'a Khoury), a publisher, is dedicated to living in Haifa, despite the degeneration of living standards.  His girlfriend Smaa (Asmaa A'zayzeh) is hindered by the law regarding movement, and so she opts to migrate to Europe to live with her mother rather than remain under the hindrances put on her by the law.  In the course of a day composed of hobbling around with a sore back on his grandfather's cane, getting a shot at the doctor's office for the pain, proofing drafts of the next issue, and Instant Messaging Smaa on his computer, the audience joins Nabeel in his existential dilemma.
The metaphor of carrying the burden in the manner his grandfather did, with the cane symbolic of the trans-generational pain of the nakba, is particularly rich.  Nabeel is dedicated to using that which is indeed more powerful than the sword, making clear he is no terrorist through the ultra-modern Wa'el (Zewar Bahloul), a mirror of that element of Palestinian society never shown in popular cinema such as O JERUSALEM.  The shot of heroin from the doctor (Lutof Nweser) carries it's own Marxist element I leave for the viewer to grasp for themselves, but I find it indicative of a certain Humanist impulse which is much less crass than the Orientalist critique of militant religious parties.

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