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11 November 2017: Divine Intervention: A Chronicle of Love and Pain


Artists for Palestine UK presents Elia Suleiman’s Divine Intervention, a surreal depiction of the political and human situation of a people living under a never-ending military occupation. Marking 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, this screening follows an all-day event at the Whitechapel Gallery on 4th November that reflects on the legacy of British colonialism through Palestinian image making. Followed by a discussion with artists Bisan Abu Eiseh and Sarah Beddington.

Divine Intervention
Elia Suleiman
2002 | 90 min | Colour | 35mm

“[Divine Intervention conveys] a suffocating reality through a pastiche of styles. Routines, in the theatrical sense, repeatedly play out to reflect the hamster-in-a-wheel effect of social conditions nobody can accept and that only change for the worse. Suleiman uses the static shot as an absurdist-vaudeville proscenium, as Chantal Akerman did (with more Warholian emphasis on the protracted stare) in films like News from Home, showing figures in the landscape whose stories, for the most part, remain hidden from us: they enter, perform some physical action, in rare instances say something, and leave. Suleiman breaks up these potentially monotonous life studies with traveling shots and more intimate scrutiny of his three main players, the only figures presented in close-up, whose identities and relationships to one another are inferred through a language of gestures and glances. Stylistically speaking, the film consists, to use the director’s word, of “stutters.” At certain moments, it even parodies the techniques of TV commercials and martial arts epics.

The consistent element is mood rather than style – a mood that might be described as fitfully restive sadness, flecked with sly gallows humor and fantasies of retaliation. The film maintains an insistent emotional charge that avoids melodrama and sentimentality by trimming vignettes to their essential action (the peeling of a hard-boiled egg dictates the length of one hospital scene), and by the ambiguity of silence in narrative space.” – Gary Indiana

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