On Sunday, November 12th, The SVA theatre was home to yet another series of documentaries that were premiered, showcased and followed by a Q&A – for the 8th year of DOC NYC.
Presented by Just Vision – “Naila and The Uprising” was in that lineup of important documentaries and it pulled on every heart string. The film left the audience in awe of the strength and bravery that up until this documentary, was barely if ever, acknowledged.
Director Julia Bacha took the stage before the movie screened. She thanked the audience for attending and in short, briefed the crowd and said that this is “a story that was missed at the time, and that is incredibly relevant today” and she was absolutely right.
“Naila and the Uprising” is a film that shed light on the women activists who were a part of the leading force during the First Palestinian Intifada – The women who were revolutionizing, taking the streets and fighting for their freedom. Palestine was (and still is) under occupation and instead of succumbing to a “loss”, men, women and children fought for their homeland and their rights.
They were fighting for everything, from education, to safely walking the streets, to simply exist, in peace.
Naila, is a woman who during the First Intifada was detained, tortured and targeted for being political and standing up against the injustice in Palestine. Naila alongside many brave women, led an important movement and were primary members of meets and conversations, yet their contributions were never glorified, celebrated or applauded.
“Naila and The Uprising” is a film that did a fantastic job of shedding light on their silenced and important narrative.
After the screening, director Julia Bacha alongside the producer, executive producer and two of the brave women from the film Naila Ayesh and Zahira Kamal, stood in front of the audience for a Q&A. They were greeted with the warmest round of applause. Everyone in the theatre was on their feet for almost 5 minutes just applauding and whistling full of inspiration.
The women were humbled by the audience’s reaction and the audience was humbled by the women’s presence. It was a moment.
The moderator asked director Bacha what brought her to the story and why she thought it was important to tell and she said:
“I’ve been working with the non-profit ‘Just Vision’ for the past 14 years and what we’ve been doing is researching, documenting and disseminating the stories of Palestinians and Israelis who were using non-violent resistance to end the occupation. We’ve made three films about contemporary stories and in the course of making these films, the activists on the ground constantly asked us and urged us to tell the story of the first Intifada, because it was badly understood abroad and only partially understood locally, in Palestinian society.
We started this process 5 years ago, not knowing that this would become a film focused on women. We generally wanted to do the story of what happened during the first Intifada, the civil disobedience level, bringing the story of how cross-geographical locations and cross-social sectors and across generations and political parties, people effectively used various strategies of civil resistance. As we researched and interviewed dozens and dozens of people… it emerged that during the time when the civil disobedience was at its height and the most organized, coincided with the time that Palestinian women were leading the underground resistance. And we didn’t know that going in. We found that it was an exceptional story and one that needed to be brought to light…”
Zahira Kamal, one of the leading Palestinian women activists was asked about what the film meant to her and she said:
“First of all, I am very glad to watch this film and to know that the story of women is documented in the First intifada. This is very important. Second, it’s very important to see that women are working to change the society, not only to change themselves, but they were doing a dual-role by struggling for their national dependence and at the same time struggling for the social change in society. They want to live in dignity, freedom and equal rights. The other thing is that there’s a big change from that time of the Intifada and aftermath of the Oslo agreement. Life is becoming much more harder than before. Settlements are more, checkpoints are more than before and at the same time, there is a hard life that we are living. One example is that I cannot have my niece in my car passing from Jerusalem to Ramallah or to any place, just because my nieces are living in Ramallah and I live in Jerusalem, which means that we have two different identity cards. And the distance between Ramallah and Jerusalem is only 18 km. This is not a nature in life, nobody can bear such a life. This is something that I want you all after watching this film, to keep it in your mind, in your heart. Talk about it, about the Palestinian suffering. When you are back home, just talk to your neighbors, friends, the family and think about what kind of work you can do in order to support Palestinians.”
Naila, was then asked about what it meant for her to take such a prominent role in this film and she said:
“You saw the film and my story. My story opened the pain again and again. This story brings the pain again to my heart… Despite the pain, I have a wonderful family, a supporter husband Jamal, he’s here, and two beautiful children… I am still working with the women and the grassroots organization…”
If you are interested in bringing this story and this film to your community check out the website: www.justvhttp://www.justvision.org/nailaandtheuprisingision.org or email them firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to the important information brought to light in this film, it is up to us as a society to be ambassadors of this story and share it with everyone we know and with whoever we can.
This film tackles the Palestine-Israel relationship, the occupation, the politics of it all, but also, it brought the notion of women’s leadership to the forefront. And that, is beyond important and extremely relevant today.
Keep your eye open on this film and spread the word.