Salt of This Sea

Overview

A woman confronts the realities of life in the occupied Palestinian territories in this drama. While she was born and raised in New York, Soraya Suheir Hammad is of Palestinian heritage and has long dreamed of returning to the land of her ancestors. When Soraya learns that her grandfather bequeathed her a bit more than 15,000 dollars that he left in a bank account in Ramallah, she decides it's time to make a pilgrimage, especially since the inheritance can pay for a long stay in the country. However, Soraya ...
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Overview

A woman confronts the realities of life in the occupied Palestinian territories in this drama. While she was born and raised in New York, Soraya Suheir Hammad is of Palestinian heritage and has long dreamed of returning to the land of her ancestors. When Soraya learns that her grandfather bequeathed her a bit more than 15,000 dollars that he left in a bank account in Ramallah, she decides it's time to make a pilgrimage, especially since the inheritance can pay for a long stay in the country. However, Soraya arrives in Israel to find that immigration personnel and border guards are not helpful to tourists of Palestinian blood, and it takes no small amount of determination before she arrives in Ramallah. There, Soraya meets Emad Saleh Bakri, a handsome Palestinian student who has a scholarship waiting for him at a university in Canada, but Israeli immigration authorities refuse to grant him a visa. Soraya and Emad bond over their frustrations at the injustice they see around them, and when she learns that the money in her grandfather's account and all other Palestinian accounts at the bank was forfeited after the establishment of the nation of Israel, they decide to take action. Soraya, Emad, and his friend Marwan Riyad Ideis plan to stage a bank robbery, in which they'll take only the amount deposited by her grandfather as a protest against the discriminatory policies that have become a part of daily life under occupation. Milh Hadha Al-Bahr aka Salt of This Sea was the first feature film from writer and director Annemarie Jacir.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
The first Palestinian-produced feature directed by a woman, Annemarie Jacir's feature debut, Salt of This Sea, takes the audience to some unexpected and uncomfortable places. It's typical of "issue" films that oppressed people are represented by some type of noble hero or heroine who stands above their oppressor -- someone more forgiving, more understanding than the rest. This is not generally the case with Palestinian cinema. Filmmakers like Hany Abu-Assad and Elia Suleiman aren't afraid to give their protagonists a certain edge, and Jacir takes things a bit further, giving us Soraya poet Suheir Hammad, a hot-tempered Palestinian-American woman from Brooklyn who seems to be angrily demanding her own personal "right of return." Soraya travels to Israel and then to Ramallah. Her grandfather left his house in Jaffa during the Nakba in 1948, and Soraya's parents were raised in a refugee camp in Lebanon before immigrating to the States. Her initial plan is to collect the money that her grandfather left in his Palestinian bank account, but when that plan is thwarted the Israelis seized the account ages ago, she's told by sympathetic but ineffectual Palestinian bureaucrats, her plans get even more complicated. Soraya decides to get a job and live in the West Bank, despite the fact that her visa will expire in a couple of weeks. She meets Emad Saleh Bakri, a handsome waiter, and his filmmaker friend Marwan Riyad Ideis, and enlists them in a farfetched scheme to rob back the money that was taken from her grandfather. Eventually, the three illegally cross the border into Israel, where they find an odd kind of freedom, and Soraya visits her grandfather's home. The film has a leisurely pace and a naturalistic feel, with handheld camerawork catching both Ramallah street life with a hip-hop-inflected soundtrack and the gorgeous scenery of Jaffa and the Mediterranean Sea. The production would lead one to expect a slice of life, but that doesn't jibe with the story, which is a bit fantastic. The unlikely bank robbery which takes up about 45 seconds of screen time and escape into Israel, and Soraya and Emad setting up house late in the film, almost suggest magic realism. Whether one buys the story or not, more than a few viewers will be put off by Soraya. She's humiliated on her way into Israel, harassed with intensively personal questions, and thoroughly searched the film's depiction of Israeli authorities' treatment of Palestinians seems very true to life, sadly. Certainly her anger at being unable to claim her grandfather's legacy is completely justified though one wonders if such a well-educated woman would really have expected things to go any better. But she's shrill and strident for much of the film, and lashes out hardest at the one genuinely friendly and well-meaning Israeli she comes across. Her impulsive actions also put her friends at serious risk. While Salt of This Sea shows us this part of the world from a point-of-view we rarely get to see, it is a problem is that Soraya is our portal into this world. Even if Jacir means for us to feel ambivalent about the character in the press notes, she acknowledges that Soraya's anger may make her "harder to access" for some viewers, her film seems to take on some of Soraya's traits. It feels a bit more didactic and confrontational than it needs to be. Then again, a conscientious viewer will be forced to examine his or her own discomfort with this prickly character and film, and there's value in that.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/7/2011
  • UPC: 705105266411
  • Original Release: 2008
  • Source: Lorber Films (Kino)
  • Region Code: 0
  • Time: 1:44:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 53,613

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Suheir Hammad Soraya
Saleh Bakri Emad
Riyad Ideis Marwan
Shelly Goral
Technical Credits
Annemarie Jacir Director, Co-producer, Screenwriter
Sawsan Asfari Co-producer
Hamada Atallah Costumes/Costume Designer
Joslyn Barnes Co-producer
Philippe Berthet Co-producer
Bero Beyer Co-producer
Jacques Bidou Producer
Benoit Chamaillard Cinematographer
Marianne Dumoulin Producer
Peter Flamman Sound/Sound Designer
Danny Glover Co-producer
Michele Hubinon Editor
Francoise Joset Production Designer
Pierre-Alain Meier Co-producer
Kamran Rastegar Score Composer
Jaume Roures Co-producer
Joseph Rouschop Co-producer
Maya Sanbar Co-producer
Eric Vaucher Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Salt of This Sea
1. Customs [9:22]
2. Ramallah [7:19]
3. Emad [11:11]
4. The Plan [9:11]
5. No Money [9:36]
6. Heist [7:39]
7. The Sea [9:51]
8. Home [7:15]
9. Stolen [9:14]
10. Dawayima [10:14]
11. Pride & Dignity [7:26]
12. Birthplace [6:54]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Salt of This Sea
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   Chapter Selection
   About Lorber Films
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