Jordanian film Farha, which depicts the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, also known as Nakba, in 1948, is now available on streaming giant Netflix.
The film is garnering rave reviews online and its on our weekend watchlist. The Jordanian film that released on Netflix on Thursday is described as the story of
“a 14-year-old girl in 1948 Palestine who watches from a locked pantry as catastrophe consumes her home, right after she persuades her father to let her continue her education in the city.”
According to Al Jazeera, Farha depicts the true story of how more than 750,000 Palestinians were evicted by the Israeli forces as they captured 78 per cent of historic Palestine.
Many people have praised the film’s depiction of the Nakba and the struggles of the Palestinian people.
As the film receives rave reviews online from people across the world, it has predictably been condemned in Israel. Israeli activist Yoseph Haddad campaigned against the film for “defam[ing] Israel and present[ing] the IDF as baby killers.” Outgoing Israeli finance minister Avigdor Lieberman also spoke against the film and suggested that the state funding must withdraw from a theatre in Jaffa that plans on screening it.
The film has been written and directed by Darin J. Sallam and it stars Karam Taher, Ashraf Barhom, Ali Suliman, Tala Gammoh, Sameera Asir, Majd Eid, Firas Taybeh and Samuel Kaczorowski.
Sallam’s film has also been selected as Jordan’s official entry for the Oscars’ Best International Feature alongside Pakistan’s Joyland by Saim Sadiq and India’s Chhello Show by Pan Nalin.
What is the Film About?
“Farha” depicts a relatively small-scale tragedy considering the scope of the violence. Yet the drama, which primarily unfolds in a tiny storage room, speaks volumes.
The film, by the Jordanian writer-director Darin J. Sallam, is a brutal kind of coming-of-age story. It follows Farha (Karam Taher), a plucky 14-year-old who chafes against gendered traditions. She petitions her father (Ashraf Barhom), the leader of their village, to let her go to school in the city with her best friend, Farida (Tala Gammoh). Dad eventually concedes, with nudges from a modern-minded relative, but Farha’s time on cloud nine is abruptly cut short.
Sallam doesn’t go out of her way to detail the politics fueling the moment — basic knowledge of what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”) that impacted the region at the time should make it clear that the newly arrived soldiers are from the Israel Defense Forces.
From Farha’s teen-girl perspective, life is scowling at boys and daydreaming about urban adventures. So when the gunfire starts and the village descends into chaos, it’s all a blur. Not grasping the dangers, Farha impulsively jumps out of the family getaway vehicle, refusing to leave her father behind.
Almost immediately, Farha’s father throws her into a storage cellar and locks her in for her safety. She remains there for an indefinite amount of time, rummaging through the preserves, catching rainwater, peering out of a peephole. She finds a gun buried inside a sack of grains — was the threat present all along?
One day, a scene of great barbarity plays out before her tiny window, with the camera approximating Farha’s obstructed point of view. Most of the rest of the time, however, Sallam keeps the camera fixed on Farha’s face. Farha doesn’t do much besides wait, yet, by simply looking at this young girl, we witness a devastating transformation.
What is Nakba?
Every year on May 15, Palestinians around the world remember the Nakba, during which the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians was carried out in 1948.
According to Al Jazeera, the British government at the time had shown support for a Jewish state but as soon as that mandate expired, Zionist forces declared the establishment of Israel, leading to the first full-scale Arab-Israeli war.
Till this day, the Israel’s military occupation in Palestine remains at core as the conflict continues to grow, making it even more challenging for Palestinians to co-exist.
Israel blasts Netflix over film ‘Farha’
An Israeli minister on Wednesday condemned Netflix over a decision to stream a Jordanian film depicting alleged atrocities against Palestinians during the 1948 conflict that coincided with Israel’s creation.
Avigdor Lieberman, the secular right-winger serving as finance minister in Israel’s outgoing government, has also suggested withdrawing state funding from a theatre in Jaffa that plans to show the film.
‘Farha’, directed by Jordanian filmmaker Darin J. Sallam, tells the story of a 14-year-old Palestinian girl whose village comes under attack by Israeli forces, who are depicted executing civilians.
It will be available for streaming on Netflix as of Thursday after featuring in the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.
“It’s crazy that Netflix decided to stream a movie whose whole purpose is to create a false pretence and incite against Israeli soldiers,” Lieberman said in a statement.
He also called a decision by Al Saraya theatre in Jaffa, which receives state subsidies, to screen the film “unacceptable”.
“All the available measures, including denying funding” are needed, Lieberman said, “to prevent this terrible screening or similar films in the future”.
Israel’s culture minister Chili Tropper said the film shows “lies and libels”, and Al Saraya planning to screen it “is a disgrace”.
“I call on the theatre’s management to change their decision to screen the film,” the minister added.
The theatre director did not immediately respond to a request by AFP to comment on the screening.
‘Farha’ is not the first film to stir controversy over alleged Israeli atrocities in 1948, when more than 760,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes.