Sunday, August 3, 2008

Nahed Awwad - Five Minutes from Home and Lions

Two Palestinian women were included in this year's edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Annemarie Jacir's film Salt of this Sea was selected for the Un Certain Regard category. The documentary film Five Minutes from Home (52 min.) by Nahed Awwad was included in the Pavillon les Cinemas du Sud.

The Jerusalem Airport lies at the side of the road that runs from Jerusalem to Ramallah. Occupied by the Israeli army since 1967, 5 km from Ramallah and 10 km from Jerusalem, The airport has been occupied by the Israeli Army since 1967. Nahed Awwad has seen one of the largest access checkpoints to the West Bank grow up at the eastern end of the dusty runway to become a large checkpoint for access into the West Bank.

However, she discovers that this has not always been the case and that this desolate setting, like many other international stopovers in the fifties and sixties, once knew the lavish and free life of travel. Merry images and bright accounts of the past contrast bitterly with those of the present in which the airfield is off limits, abandoned behind the barbed wire and, soon, behind the Israeli wall of separation.

"The airport's history is told through interviews with passersby at the Qalandiya checkpoint, from where the overgrown runway can be seen. Many of those questioned among the younger generation were unaware that the airport was visible.
"People remember people," Ms. Awwad said. "People's stories, their personalities and their habits are what sticks in the mind. And I realised from getting to know these characters that there was a whole history there that I, as part of the generation that has grown up under occupation, knew nothing about." (excerpt from an article by
Omar Karmai, the National)

Five Minutes from Home can be seen at the International Academy of Art Palestine from July 25th to August 5th.Curated by Reem Fadda (director of the Palestinian Association of Contemporary Art),

Here is a short documentary also by Ms. Awwad entitled Lions (10 min. 2002). The documentary is a collection of images of daily life as a survival mechanism - filmed in Ramallah during the invasion of Israeli troops in April of that year. They are images that Nahed Awwad saw, heard and experienced in her neighborhood.

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