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In a freewheeling masterclass held at the Marrakech Film Festival on Thursday, director Elia Suleiman offered as concise a mission statement as can be, defining his guiding beliefs in four short words.
“Pleasure is extremely political,” said the Palestinian director, whose films have approached the fraught nature of life in the occupied territories with a comedic bent and an absurdist tone. “The repercussion of a moment of pleasure is extremely political in the positive sense of the word. It’s against those who want to impose on you their own agenda, those who want to program your daily life.”
Tendency - Nature - Soldiers - Police - Officers
When asked about his tendency play up the ridiculous nature of soldiers, police officers and other agents of the state, he explained that, “pleasure has the potential to threaten, to crack positions of authority.”
He continued, “If you try to imagine authorities always posed as a force, they’re not easy to crack. The way they maintain themselves is by creating a sense of fear. But the second you make a crack in the system, they fall.”
Director - Intent - Variety - Class - Pleasure
The director further clarified his intent while speaking with Variety after his class. “I don’t take pleasure in manufacturing images of violence,” he said. “I cartoonize [authority] and make them ridiculous. They get so annoyed about that, they would prefer if I showed them torturing Palestinians. But that’s the magic of cinema.”
At another point in the masterclass, the actor/director explained how he developed his often-silent onscreen persona. “From the beginning, maybe unconsciously, I have resisted verbal language,” he noted. “Cinema is a multiplicity of languages. When you are composing an image, one of the languages is silence, one of the languages is the soundtrack, and another is the background noise. Those belong to the image just as much as verbal language.”
“Why must filmmakers over-use verbal language when they have their...
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