Arab Film Series Online: Elia Suleiman Retrospective + Talkback

Image: Film still from The Time That Remains (2008)

Films available Friday, May 21, 2021 – Sunday, May 30, 2021

Arab Film Series Online: Elia Suleiman Retrospective + Talkback

Free Online Stream (limited capacity) – Register

In partnership with ArteEast, AFMI and Doha Film Institute, AANM’s Arab Film Series Online is pleased to celebrate and showcase work of famed Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman. Throughout his career Suleiman directed four feature films, all of which are available to audiences in this Video-On-Demand style retrospective. Guests (within the U.S., Canada and Palestine) can view the films at their leisure from 12 a.m. EDT Friday, May 21 to 11:59 p.m. EDT Sunday, May 30, 2021. Learn more about the four films below.

To make this experience complete, we are pleased to host a live, virtual talkback with Elia Suleiman himself at 3 p.m. EDT Sunday, May 23, moderated by AFMI’s Yasmina Tawil!

Register for all films + talkback

For questions, e-mail Dave Serio at [email protected].

Featured films:

Chronicle Of A Disappearance (1996)
In an investigation of the twilight zone between narrative, history and autobiography, Chronicle Of A Disappearance transgresses the boundaries of many genres. After living in New York for many years, filmmaker Elia Suleiman returned to Palestine for this film. He used his privileged position as half insider and half outsider to analyze how much the Palestinian population is losing its national identity. Through his quasi-aimless roamings we become acquainted with his extended circle of family and friends. The characters lead a marginal existence in an occasionally surreal reality. The director/protagonist moves between the role of character and spectator, mediator and narrator, as the film itself moves between documentary, fiction, reminiscence and present. The film is lucidly structured, funny and ironic.

1996 / 84 minutes / PG-13 / Comedy, Drama / Arabic, Hebrew, French, Russian with English Subtitles

Divine Intervention (2002)
In Nazareth, under a guise of banal normalcy, the town embraces folly. Under pressure from his failing business, a man takes matters into his own hands and tries to break a chain reaction of petty feuds. He breaks down himself. A love story takes place between a Palestinian man living in Jerusalem and a Palestinian woman from Ramallah. The man shifts between his ailing father and his love life, trying to keep both alive. Barred from crossing, the lovers’ intimate encounters take place on a deserted lot right beside the checkpoint. A complicity of solemn desire begins to generate violent repercussions and against the odds, their angry hearts counter-attack with spasms of spectacular fantasy.

2002 / 92 minutes / 18+ / Drama / Arabic, Hebrew with English Subtitles

The Time That Remains (2008)
At the time of the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, during the final hours before the surrender of Nazareth, Fuad, a member of the Palestinian resistance, is separated from Thurayya, the love of his life. She flees the conflict, travelling to Jordan with her family, but Fuad is captured before being able to escape. Years pass. Arrested and accused of smuggling arms, he encounters Thurayya again at the police station. Nazareth is undergoing a period of extreme political upheaval: the desire to regain and reassert a national identity is growing. Thurayya’s brother appears at Fuad’s house during a riot. Elia’s aged mother is tended by a Filipino nurse. A cop is madly in love with the nurse, who has made him her domestic slave. Rather than arresting Elia, the cop is the first to welcome him. Everything is absurdity, and Elia struggles to make sense of it all, but in vain. Is it Elia who carries Palestine with him wherever he goes, or is it Palestine which is spreading throughout the rest of the world?

2008 / 105 minutes / PG-13 / Comedy, Drama / Arabic, Hebrew, English with English subtitles

It Must Be Heaven (2019)
Elia Suleiman escapes from Palestine seeking an alternative homeland, only to find that Palestine is trailing behind him. The promise of a new life turns into a comedy of errors: however far he travels, from Paris to New York, something always reminds him of home. From award-winning director Elia Suleiman, a comic saga exploring identity, nationality and belonging, in which Suleiman asks the fundamental question: where is the place we can truly call home?

2019 / 97 minutes / 18+ / Comedy, Drama / Arabic, English, French with English Subtitles


Born in Nazareth in 1960, Palestinian filmmaker and Doha Film Institute’s Artistic Advisor, Elia Suleiman directed his first two short films while living in New York between 1981-1993. In 1994, Suleiman returned to Jerusalem to create a Film and Media Department at Birzeit University. His feature debut, Chronicle of a Disappearance, won the Best First Film award at the 1996 Venice Film Festival. In 2002, Divine Intervention won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the Best Foreign Film prize at the European Awards in Rome. His feature, The Time That Remains screened in competition at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. His latest feature It Must Be Heaven screened in competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and was the Winner of the Jury Special Mention and FIPRESCI Critics’ Award.

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  • May 21, 2021 - May 31, 2021
  • 12:00 am