Salt of this Sea: Notes on a Shooting

By Annemarie Jacir

salt-of-this-sea-annemarie-jacir.jpgSalt of this Sea, 2008

Salt of this Sea is a low-budget, feature-length film which follows the story of Soraya, a working-class Palestinian refugee born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Wild-at-heart and independent, she decides to return to the country that her grandfather was exiled from in 1948. She meets a young man whose ambition, contrary to hers, is to leave forever and find a life far away. Tired of the constraints that dictate their lives, they know that in order to be free, they must take things into their own hands, even if it’s against the law. The film, which I wrote and directed, is my first feature-length film. It stars first time actors Suheir Hammad and Saleh Bakri.

Financing for the film was extremely difficult and took several years. It was pieced together by a number of co-producers including Paris-based JBA Productions, Spain’s Mediopro, Switzerland’s Thelma Film, Belgium’s Tarantula Films, Ramallah-based Philistine Films as well as Danny Glover & Joslyn Barnes. Due to various co-production rules, several requirements were placed on the production, including the location of post-production facilities.

Principal photography took place in Ramallah, Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Haifa. Due to the lack of film schools and restrictions on Palestinian movement, assembling a crew was challenging, most having never been on a film set before. However the film proved to be a learning experience and the majority of the Palestinian crew have decided to continue working in the field.

Other on-the-ground production difficulties stemmed from the fact that most of the crew carried Palestinian identity cards and were denied permission to leave the West Bank, therefore a new crew had to be formed for the sequences shot inside Israel. Additionally, we were denied permission to shoot in several places and therefore had to compromise on locations and even actors.

Annemarie Jacir is a Palestinian-American film director. Previous short films include A Post-Oslo History (1998), The Satellite Shooters (2001) and Like Twenty Impossibles (2003).