Simply defining Annemarie Jacir as a Palestinian would be a gross minimization because she is also a filmmaker, a woman, a producer, a writer, a sister, a mother, a wife, and for many lucky enough to call her so, a friend. Yet she’s also quite possibly the most influential, best loved and well-respected cinematic representative of her displaced people. From her 2010 debut feature Salt of this Sea, to her touching second narrative film released in 2012, When I Saw You, to her award winning 2017 film Wajib, Jacir keeps her audience on their toes. Here are a few unusual questions we got to ask her a while back.
What defines elegance to you?
If you could sit to dinner with five people, alive or dead, who would they be?
My grandfather, Nelson Mandela, Tilda Swinton, David Byrne, and Frantz Fanon. A bizarre gathering but I think we’d have a ball.
If you hadn’t become a filmmaker, what would you be doing?
Writing books, writing poetry, and I would have loved to have been a dancer.
What is the first film you remember watching?
I remember my father taking me to see a film in Bethlehem when I was very young. It was the story of Jesus’ life. In my memory it was very dramatic and I remember being very disturbed by a number of scenes. I remember one scene where a young boy has an epileptic fit. I was deeply affected by that scene, and I remember feeling so much empathy with that boy, imagining for days that I had epilepsy.
Who are your cinematic inspirations?
John Cassavetes, Claire Denis, Jean Luc Godard, Abbas Kiarostami, Mahmoud Darwish, Ralph Ellison ... It’s a long list of filmmakers, poets, writers, photographers, but most of my inspiration comes from my people.
What is happiness to you?
Happiness is the state of being happy. Isn’t that the eternal struggle?
Image courtesy of the filmmaker, used with permission.