An interview with Palestinian filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel: “A film is like a historical document, it should be solid enough to endure”

 

Director of A World Not Ours, A Man Returned and A Drowning Man

An interview with Palestinian filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel: “A film is like a historical document, it should be solid enough to endure”

By
David Walsh

4 January 2018

Mahdi Fleifel is a Danish-Palestinian filmmaker, whose feature film A World Not Ours premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012. We commented on the remarkable work and interviewed Fleifel at the time.

His short film, A Drowning Man, was selected for the official competition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was also screened in Toronto at last year’s festival.

Fleifel’s grandparents were driven out of their village by the Israelis in 1948, and eventually settled in the Ain El-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon. The future filmmaker was born in Dubai in 1979, where his father had moved for employment. The family moved to Denmark in 1988.

A Drowning Man

A World Not Ours is both a personal memoir and a tracing out of the Palestinian condition. In a lively and even entertaining fashion, the director edited and shaped an enormous quantity of film and video footage shot by his father and Fleifel himself over the course of several decades. The final product recounts his family’s experience, the general experience of Ain El-Hilweh and the fate of three individuals in particular, Fleifel’s grandfather, his uncle Said (actually, his grandfather’s half-brother) and his good friend, Abu Eyad (named after the murdered PLO intelligence chief), a former Fatah fighter.

A World Not Ours deservedly won more than 30 awards, including the Peace Film Prize at the 2013 Berlinale and the Edinburgh, Yamagata and DOC NYC Grand Jury Prizes.

Fleifel’s 12-minute film, Xenos ( Stranger, 2014), follows Abu Eyad and other young…

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