Subjects: Race Power and Privilege, Asian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies
The growing struggle for Palestinian self-determination between 1960 and 1980 was supported by radical left-wing movements worldwide, also in Japan. This is illustrated by a collection of 16mm films by militant filmmakers from various countries, which were dubbed and screened in Japan. Their Japanese audiences felt oppressed by the US after World War II, and not only sympathized but also identified with the Palestinians.
Stylistically, the films vary widely. They includes interviews with PLO leaders, documentary impressions of life in refugee camps, experimental films, and instructional films for tourism purposes. Mohanad Yaqubi has drawn on this material to create a film that might be seen as a conclusion or epilogue. He shows how two very different peoples can feel connected through images, and also raises questions. Where is the line between support and propaganda? And to what extent can a local struggle be translated internationally?
Official Selection at 2022 IDFA
"The political valence of Yaqubi’s work here is plain, unvarnished, and unwavering. And yet, in keeping with Espinosa’s call for an imperfect cinema that seeks to preserve the integrity of the artwork itself, any authorial claim recedes before the primacy of the films themselves." — Reverse Shot
"As such, “R21” emerges as a very interesting experimental film that has both artistic and archival value, with a phrase uttered during the movie, “Film was a powerful way to keep our memories alive” synopsizing it in the best fashion." - Asian Movie Pulse
About the filmmaker
Mohanad Yaqubi is a Palestinian filmmaker, producer, and one of the founders of the Ramallah-based production house Idioms Film. Yaqubialso is one of the founders of the research and curatorial collective Subversive Films, which focuses on militant film practices, and a founding member of the Palestine Film Institute. His film No Exit (2015, written with Omar Kheiry) premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival. His feature Off Frame aka Revolution Until Victory (2016), screened at TIFF, Berlinale, cinema du reel, Dubai IFF, and other festivals worldwide. Since 2017, he has been a resident researcher at the School of the Art (KASK) in Gent, Belgium.