Palestinian filmmaking in Israel: negotiating conflicting discourses

Friedman, Y. 2010. Palestinian filmmaking in Israel: negotiating conflicting discourses. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design

TitlePalestinian filmmaking in Israel: negotiating conflicting discourses
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsFriedman, Y.

In recent years Palestinian cinema is evidently growing, as more films emerge from diverse sites of production: the Palestinian Authority, the different Palestinian diasporas and inside Israel. While scholars have often discussed Palestinian cinema without necessarily differentiating between the various sites of production, this thesis offers an in-depth analysis of Palestinian filmmaking inside Israel by Palestinians citizens of Israel.

It addresses a lacuna in the research of Palestinian cinema by examining in detail the context of production of Palestinian films within the Israeli film industry, outlining the structural conditions and the discursive environment within which Palestinian filmmakers in Israel work. Moreover, through a close reading of key films, and references to others, this thesis identifies shared thematic characteristics of this body of work, and discusses the ways in which the films relate to both the Zionist and the Palestinian national discourses.

Broadly, my analysis shows that while as with Palestinian cinema at large the films discussed in this thesis engage with issues of history, space and resistance they are nuanced in ways which relate to the specific circumstances of Palestinians in Israel. Concerns of ‘belonging’ and identity consume much of the films’ production and distribution processes as well as their thematic focus. Their production within Israel problematises the categories of both Israeli and Palestinian cinemas as ‘national’ cinemas, since their hybridity on the one hand exposes the ambivalence of the Zionist discourse and disturbs notions of Palestinian national resistance on the other. Thematically, many of the films’ narratives, especially of the younger generation, feature processes of ‘becoming’, as the films’ subjects search for places of belonging and identity positions. In so doing, the films often functioned as ‘sites’ through which conflicting discourses of identity, culture and politics were negotiated. In the films, and through the process of making the films, the filmmakers examined, scrutinized and often positioned themselves in relation to dominant Palestinian and Israeli/Zionist discourses, within the wider cultural trajectories of East and West.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
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