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Film director on PA TV emphasizes importance of focusing on Palestinian women’s experience under “occupation”

A PA TV interview with Palestinian film director Layali Kilani:
PA TV host: “We’re accustomed to NGOs dealing with women’s issues, not just those connected to cinema, not just Shashat.* All the NGOs who get outside funding from foreign entities focus on issues of women in society, and they don’t go near [matters concerning] the occupation or the occupation’s actions. [The movie] If They Take Him did touch on this, and it was very daring. It touched on the essence of the occupation’s actions. How was this done? Was it easy? [Was it] out of some strong demand [on your part]? There’s a qualitative change in the direction Shashat, as an NGO, is taking.”
Layali Kilani: “First of all, we have a bit of a problem with this. Somebody can tell you that a woman’s problem stems from the fact that she is a woman, and society behaves violently to her because she is a woman, and this happens because of men. But in my opinion, no. We in Palestinian society still have men’s violence against women, but the occupation is also violent towards her. This isn’t easy. We view female Martyrs (Shahids) just like we view male Martyrs. We see [people] wounded, and there are women among them. Why shouldn’t we shed light on these things? In my case, I had an idea to do something about a strong Palestinian woman in society, as part of the ‘I am a Woman’ program. I don’t want to do something about divorce or marriage.”
Host: “And you didn’t come across any opposition or difficulties about when you presented the topic?”
Kilani: “No, no, no.”
Host: “Foreign funding usually has strings attached: ‘Don’t go near matters having to do with the occupation; focus on women’s issues.’”
Kilani: “But in every film that you prepare, the EU writes: ‘This is the director’s opinion only, and is not the view of the European Union’. And this is where they give us freedom…”
Host [interrupting]: “There’s room [for maneuvering].”
Kilani: “Exactly. Do whatever you want, but it’s your own personal opinion.”

*According to its website, Shashat is “a formally registered cultural NGO in Palestine whose focus is on women’s cinema and the social and cultural implications of women’s representations.”

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