Rashid Masharawi, Filmmaker
Date of birth: 1962
Place of birth: Gaza
Languages: Arabic (first language) & English
Rashid Masharawi was born and raised in Shati refugee camp, Gaza Strip. He is a self-taught filmmaker.
After a decade of working and establishing a name as a filmmaker, Masharawi founded in 1996 the Cinema Production and Distribution Center (CPC) in Ramallah, which main purpose is to organize workshops to give young Palestinian filmmakers to acquire knowledge in the field of cinema by working in actual productions. The CPC also initiated the Mobile Cinema, which brings screenings to refugee camps in the form of an annual “Kids Film Festival.”
Thus while his features such as Laila’s Birthday, Curfew, Haifa, Ticket to Jerusalem and documentaries such as Live From Palestine have received international theatrical and television distribution, awards and critical recognition, Masharawi has remained in the past decades living and producing within the Occupied Territories. Although he considers the value of his international recognition very important in reinforcing his situation as a Palestinian feature filmmaker, he considers himself more as an artist and director rather than a Palestinian partisan.
The land of the story – documentary 2012 (52’)
Aman, a homeland and city – documentary 2011 (26’)
Hawra’ Baghdad – documentary 2009 (52’)
Laila’s birthday Feature 2008 (75)
Waiting – Fiction, Feature 2005 (90’)
Arafat my brother – documentary 2005 (52’)
Ticket to Jerusalem – Feature 2002 (90’)
Live From Palestine – Documentary 2002 (57’)
Behind the Walls – Documentary 1999 (52’)
Tension – Documentary 1998 (26’)
Haifa – Fiction Feature 1995 (75’)
Curfew – Fiction Feature 1993 (73’)
Long Days In Gaza – Documentary 1991 (30’)
Dar O Dour – Documentary 1990 (48’)
The Shelter – Short, Fiction 1989 (30’)
Palestine Stereo is a feature film reflecting on the past and current Palestinian situation. Palestine Stereo is a film that searches for the homeland inside the human being and for the search of the human being inside the homeland. The film deals with the absurd reality and sheds light on both the Palestinian individual as well as the society. The narrative emerges from very private issues and connects with general matters as a way to translate the wider reality in more concrete terms. I interpret the relationship of the human being, place, and time through a cinematic language which originates from the distinctiveness and absurdity of the situation.
Knowing that Palestine is the land of stories, we witness the lead characters struggling to find a homeland inside the homeland. The film raises questions regarding the concept of the homeland through the characters’ personal narrative. The characters aim to achieve their dreams, fulfill their future aspirations and realize a dignified right to live in a decent way- whether in their homeland or by emigrating to reinvent the virtual homeland away from the actual one.
Personally, as the film director and writer, I am a Palestinian citizen who shares the same dream, hope and pain. I firmly believe in the necessity for a constant search for cinematic terminologies which can best present the contradictions and ironies that dominate the life of a nation aspiring for freedom and liberation from external and internal occupation.
The film coincides with the era of the Arab revolutions, although it does not relate directly to this via picture and sound, it cannot ignore their impact on our presence and future.
Director’s Visual Approach:
The two lead characters in the film work in renting sound system devices for different happy and unhappy occasions in Palestine nowadays. In relevance to that, the film’s events are all set in a highly energetic, lively, speedy, rhythmic, motional picture atmosphere which takes place in different locations.
The camera movement and speed will be used to display an enriched cinematic presentation which serves the visual narrative and to create a real living atmosphere throughout the film. Long camera shots with speedy motion of camera movement and sometimes a shaking and tense motion will be used to reflect the general tension which accompanies the characters’ and locations’ livelihood and atmosphere. This tension is dominant in all the exterior scenes which are three quarters of the total scenes in the film. The exterior scenes will rely on big groups of people as well. Meanwhile, the interior scenes; the camera will move less, the shots will be shorter time wise and the general atmosphere will be calmer in relevance to the fact that one of the lead characters is deaf and mute.
The locations of both the interior and exterior scenes will depend on modest and only the necessary set/décor which will serve the story line and will help in exposing the various stages, places and characters’ evolution in the story. The set will reflect the psychology of the characters and their relationship to different times and places. The characters’ vision and narrative will be mirrored through the different designs and the architecture shown in various locations.
Different dimensions of light will be used in the different locations to create the ecstatic feeling in the film. In the exterior scenes, natural light will be used. In the interior scenes, the concept of light and set will emphasize the psychological feeling of the characters’ instability and vulnerability. Light and set will resemble the individual’s and the society’s disability of communication.
The sound of locations, events and characters will mainly rely on the original sound which will be taken during the shooting of the scenes. Most of the scenes happen in various social and political events such as: a Palestinian wedding, funerals, demonstrations, and various political and historical occasions. These Palestinian occasions all have folkloric and national songs played either for celebration or commemoration. Some songs are old and others are modern, which will be used as music in the scenes of the film. However, the original music of the film will be calm and relies on limited musical instruments which can display a contradiction with the music and songs that are used in the scenes.
Since one of the two lead characters is deaf; who has a big presence in most of the scenes, this affects the sound concept and the overall of the sound mixage in the film. Sometimes we will have to hear from the deaf character’s point of view. Occasionally, the sound will be disconnected and resumed later on; this will display an experimental artistic dimension on the sound concept. The disconnection of sound, especially in some of the political speeches in the film is to symbolize the Palestinian boredom from slogans; which accompanied the different stages of the political national struggle.
The editing will have speedy shots of the exterior scenes but with slower rhythm of shots when the camera is taking the character’s state of mind, emotions and reactions. The interior scenes are highly dominated by the immense presence of the lead characters which will affect the rhythm of editing of the interior scenes. The editing of the interior will be related to the characters, events, the major turning points, the development of the characters, and the impact of the events on the dramatic build up in the film.