Thursday, June 19, 2014

Palestine Stereo (2013): Subverting Politics

Palestine Stereo (2013)
dir: Rashid Masarawi

SIFF 2014 Film #18

Palestine Stereo is a light-hearted episodic comedy about living under Israeli Occupation, using the episodic comedy as a vehicle to communicate the various absurdities of Palestian life and easy-to-swallow messages of Pro-Palestinan morality. Masarawi has turned down the irony to make a film that is more directly piercing, almost to the point of being heavy handed, and made a film that lightly documents the injustices of occupation.

Samy and Stereo are the movie's central characters who are trying to escape Palestine in order to seek asylum and a life of sanity in Canada. Stereo's apartment, pre-film, had been bombed by Israeli forces while he was out singing at a wedding, and while Samy was there to fix the electrical. The bombing killed Stereo's wife, and left Samy deaf and mute, a pointed allegory for how Israeli occupation strives to if not destroy Palestine, then keep it from communicating effectively with the outside world. Devastated by the disaster, the sane decision is to flee Palestine and go live among the calm. But, Samy's fiancee, representing the call of the Palestinian nation, tries to keep Samy from fleeing to Canada, saying essentially that fleeing is a cowardly act.

However, Samy and Stereo need to have $10,000 in a bank before they can be approved for Canadian citizenship. Their scheme is to buy a shoddy ex-ambulance that's been riddled with bullet holes, and borrow a stereo setup in order to make the money so they can leave. This allows them to go around Palestine setting up audio equipment everywhere it is needed. They go to protest rallies against Israeli occupation when the occupation moves to bulldoze olive trees or other such movements. They go to political conferences and rallies where the politicians make the same pro-Palestine speeches over and over and over again to the point that Stereo knows what they're going to say. They go to weddings and celebrations. It's all a documentation of the variety of life under occupation.

Though Palestine Stereo is a bit direct, it's easy-to-swallow capsule makes the direct messaging go down smoothly. It's a political allegory through and through, while also noting the various absurdities that Masarawi perceives to be part of life in general. Religion is blind while Palestine is deaf and mute. And, Stereo is our observer of all of this.

Masarawi's light comedy touch to even the heavily political scenarios makes Palestine Stereo a required viewing to see the dissection of Palestinian politics in a way that both indirectly challenges its own government while also challenging the occupation while also dealing in its own sloganeering. It's clever in the way it masks its intent in order to deliver a message that might be considered unpopular or even criminal.

No comments:

Post a Comment