Mahmoud Darwich: As the Land Is the Language

Simone Bitton's hour-long 1997 video about Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwich is a moving testament to the tragedy of exile. Darwich's family was “thrown onto the road” by the Israelis in 1948, when he was six, and later his village was leveled by Israeli bulldozers. He lived in Israel during his teens and later moved to Cairo, the first city he'd ever experienced where everyone spoke his native language. Bitton, an Israeli Jew, follows Darwich's shifting residences and presents a copious amount of his poetry (“Let every barricade be a homeland”) in both voice-over and public readings. Sometimes she illustrates the poems, but her long takes make the images more meditative than formulaic. She hardly mentions Darwich's longtime support of the PLO, and the extent to which he also supported its terrorist acts is left unexplored.

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