Swedish Director Advises Students on Documentary Film-Making

RAMALLAH, September 14, 2013 (WAFA) – Swedish film director PeÅ Holmquist, who directed the documentary film ‘Young Freud in Gaza’ in 2008, believes that Palestinians should learn more how to put necessary questions in order to make their documentary films more powerful.

Holmquist came to Palestine to head a three-week workshop for Palestinian students from Birzeit University interested in the making of documentary films and to give them advice and help in how to turn their ideas into reality.

“Palestinians should learn how to put questions and learn how not to answer them right away” in order to capture the attention of the viewer, he said on the last day of his workshop.

“Israelis know this very well, and that’s why they have so many documentary films,” he said.

Holmquist, who directed several films about Palestine such as ‘Gaza Ghetto: Portrait of a Palestinian Family,’ said that when making his films, he “wants to make a film that people could identify with.”

He pointed out that there has to be a unique and interesting way to approach people when addressing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“When you tell people who work at the TV that you want to make a film about Palestinians, they say that they have heard everything about Palestine and Israel and they don’t want to hear more,” he said.

The director indicated that Palestinians need to gain more knowledge of how to make the world interested in hearing their story.

Besides making movies about Palestinian life under the Israeli occupation, Holmquist conducts filmmaking workshops to help guide new aspiring filmmakers.

“These three past weeks were very intensive; but I think there are some good potential filmmakers among the students,” he said rounding up his workshop.

Holmquist’s interest in the Palestinian cause started when he was a photographer in Vietnam long time ago.

He worked with American journalists who were rude and blunt with the press officers there, but while in Israel they presented a rather different attitude. Holmquist later asked why was that? And the answer was “Israel is our friend.”

Holmquist was surprised to hear such an answer despite the fact that there is still an occupation and people who lose their land. Following that incident, he decided that there is a story that needs to be followed.

He advised filmmakers not to answer all the questions at the beginning of their documentary films and gave an example of a film about a Palestinian fisherman who says that he can’t fish because of the Israeli gunboats in the first 30 seconds of the film.

“Why should I watch this film when I know that he can’t fish. I don’t even know if he loves to fish. I need to know more about him,” he argued.

He said that he owes the Palestinians for all the films that he made about them.

“I took so much from the Palestinian people and I feel that I want to give something back to them like ideas, creative thoughts, and feedback,” he said.

With the help from Holmquist, 18 students made five films titled, “The State of Hani al-Amer”, “Ayoub”, “Dirt Weave”, “The Crossing”, and “Balila.”

The coordinator of the television unit in the Media Development Center in Birzeit University, Riad Dais, said that that the success of this workshop and the quality of the films encouraged them to think about organizing a Documentary Film Festival.

source:WAFA NEWS