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Suha Arraf
The Best Director Award- Villa Touma
  
Suha Arraf
Writer - Director – Producer
 
Villa Touma is the feature film directorial debut of Suha Arraf, the Recipient of TheWIFTS Best Director Award 2014. The film is a brilliantly crafted and chilling drama set in Jerusalem, which tells the tragic tale of three sisters who live in quiet desperation in a world frozen in time and the young orphan who falls victim to their unhappiness.

Director's Statement: Suha Arraf was born in the Palestinian village of Melyia, near Lebanon. She began her filmmaking career as documentary producer. "Ever since I was young, I would hear about the beauty of Ramallah, the city where young Palestinian couples would go for their honeymoon. In my imagination, Ramallah was a magical city. When I first visited it in 1990 I found it to be rather ugly, with damaged roads, political graffiti and martyr posters everywhere. It was a shock to the system. Where was the Ramallah people talked about?

"Searching the narrow streets of the old parts of Ramallah, I found its hidden beauty in the form of old stone villas, still holding on to their former prestige. I also found the various clubs where what's left of the Palestinian aristocracy who haven't left their land gather to meet.

Villa Touma

"Many of the women I met were very similar to the characters in my film. They live in a rosy bubble of memories of their glory days. They don't leave their houses, which look like museums from all their original features, so that they won't have to face the reality of the new, ugly Ramallah under occupation. It was these painful images that led me to want to make this film. I wanted to explore how the 1967 war affected the Palestinian aristocracy, a subject we Palestinians don't really discuss. Instead we tend to focus on the refugee camps, the wall, the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah, all the while ignoring a whole class of people that are on the verge of extinction.

"I imagined that people would jump at the opportunity to see this unique angle of our struggle. However, it was hard to meet many people's expectations on what Palestinian issues should be. This was not a subject they'd expected from a female Palestinian filmmaker. They all wanted to know where the soldiers were, the checkpoints, the walls, the martyrs and their wailing mothers, the resistance fighters and impoverished refugee camps.

"Through this film I wish to bring the human side of the Palestinian to the forefront, and highlight the Palestinian issue as a human issue. It's not just a question of death, land and martyrs, but also human beings and their strengths and weaknesses, compassion and stubbornness. I see this as something lacking in modern Palestinian cinema where we are portrayed as either heroes or victims, and we have forgotten the person stuck in between the hero and the victim. It was that person's humble story I wanted to tell."

Suha Arraf's portfolio as a documentary producer: Women of Hamas [2010] received 13 awards at international film festivals. Suha's first two screenplays, The Syrian Bride [2004] and The Lemon Tree [2008], both directed by Eran Riklis, received international acclaim, with the latter winning Best Screenplay at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and a Best Screenplay nomination at the European Film Academy Awards. As a Director: Good Morning Jerusalem [2004]. Documentaries: Hard Ball [2007], Women of Hamas [2010]. Documentary Screenwriter: The Syrian Bride [2004], Lemon Tree [2008].




 
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