Palestinian documentary wins Silver Bear Award at Berlinale 2017
Berlinale 2017, the annual film festival, resulted in a Silver Bear Award for Palestinian filmmaker Raed Andoni in the category ‘best documentary’ . His winning film is “Istiyad Ashbah” (Ghost Hunting), and portrays the trauma of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli captivity. Having spent time as a youth in an Israeli occupation jail as a political prisoner himself, he knows all too well what it means to go through this haunting and traumatizing experience.
For the purpose of the movie, he filmed for a period of 7 weeks inside a hangar in Ramallah. He instructed a dozen former inmates to reconstruct the Moskobiya interrogation center, and portrayed their emotional and psychological challenges.
“I use everything I can in the film to help them dig into their sub-conscience,” Andoni told AFP. He explained that he wanted to peel away layer after layer of repression to find “the ghost inside”. For some, the confrontation went to deep, and they left the project.
“The pattern of dominance and submission – to the other and the self – repeat themselves endlessly, both in and out of prison. Traumas land in the bottom of the souls.”
Andoni referred to making the film as a ‘cathartic experience’, underlining that he wanted to face the painful memories of his detention through the eyes of others.
The practices of the Israeli occupation inside its prisons of repression are notorious, and human rights organizations scrutinize them regularly. Palestinian hunger strikers in the past few years drew a lot of attention to the issue. They shocked the world by protesting against their incarceration by refusing to take any food. Due to their determination, they continued to make headlines, although mainstream media often suppressed their news. In some cases they succeeded at pressuring Israeli authorities into releasing them.
Human rights violations by the Israeli occupation
In the mean time, the harsh conditions and routine torture are a continuing process. It has as yet not been put under any significant political pressure by the outside world. It will take significant steps from the international community. Otherwise, Israeli authorities will still not feel any obligation to abide by their obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
For this reason, it is of enormous significance that Andoni has produced this movie, and that he has won this prestigious award. It is to be hoped that his landmark win will draw attention to the ruthless human rights violations that Israeli authorities continue to commit against Palestinians living under an illegal occupation.