Mohammed al-Atar’s “The Iron Wall”
Posted by worriedlebanese on 24/02/2008
Trying to get to watch this movie was an adventure in itself. A couple of months ago, I tried to catch it’s only public screening in Paris. I had received a message from my aunt reminding me about it. Only I read it 30 minutes before the start of the projection. So I pedaled and rushed as fast as I could from the other end of the city. I had a flat tire… I couldn’t find another bicycle to swap it with… And after finally finding one and reaching my destination, I couldn’t find a terminal to park the rented bicycle… So I arrived a couple of minutes late and saw a large crowd cuing before the theater. They weren’t actually cuing. They were discussing politics, middle eastern politics. Most looked French. But I’m sure there were a couple of Lebanese, Palestinians and Israeli amongst them. The theatre was packed, but they stayed on to discuss the same topic, either hoping to be allowed in, or they were just happy to meet with like-minded people and were planning on watching another middle-eastern film programmed for the same day. After eavesdropping for a couple of minutes, I returned home.Later that day, I learnt that a friend had bought back a DVD copy of the film from England. So i decided to borrow it from her. And so I did. I literally shelved it for weeks. But decided to watch it a couple of hours ago. I wouldn’t say I found it disappointing. It was actually rather close to what I had expected. It is a militant palestinian movie that’s main argument is against the separation wall. What I hadn’t expected was the reaction it was going to have on me. I felt totally discouraged. The whole Israeli-Palestinian issue seemed to be totally hopeless. Strangely enough, this impression didn’t come from the film’s subject, but from it’s approach. It reminded me of Alan Dershowitz’s “A Case for Israel” in its obsession to “prove” one point right by discarding any information that doesn’t directly suit this purpose. What does Mohammed al-Atar’s expect from this film? Sympathy for the Palestinians? Antipathy towards Israel? Most of the people who are likely to see his movie already share his sentiments… As for the rest, they’re going to be surprised by his portrayal of Israel and its colonisation policies. Even though he undeniably relies on facts, people are likely to be taken aback by the way he browbeats his point. When one makes such a militant documentary, one hopes for change. If Mohammed al-Atar aims at that, I believe he’s chosen the wrong strategy.