________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2006


Soraida, A Woman of Palestine.

Tahani Rached (Director). Yves Bisaillon (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2004.
119 min., 08 sec., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: C0104 136.

Subject Headings:
Women, Palestinian Arab - West Bank - Social conditions.
Military occupation - Social aspects - West Bank.
Arab - Israeli conflict - 1993 - West Bank.l

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Pam Klassen-Dueck.

*** /4


It’s not fiction of idle dreams; it’s my inner reality. The Soraida who fights, who wants to drive the enemy out, lives inside me, I can’t deny her.


Soraida, a Palestinian woman, lives in Ramallah with her husband and two young children. She, her family, and her friends exist in fear of the Israeli army’s every move. Amid cleaning her home and caring for her family, Soraida discusses with friends the possible solutions to the illegal Israeli occupation of their territory.

     Soraida, a National Film Board documentary, was filmed in 2003 by Tahani Rached. From the first frame of the film, which features an Israeli tank pointed in the direction of the camera, Rached portrays Soraida and her family as haunted beings who cannot evade the Israeli presence in Ramallah. The Israeli presence seems to soak into every aspect of the Palestinians’ existence. One of the neighbours exclaims,

“I’ll tell you about my dream. They never leave us alone, not in life, not in dreams. There’s no end to it. I had gone out to do errands. The shooting started everywhere. I wanted to run, but where? Left? Right? There was shooting from all directions. My shoes fell apart, I couldn’t run. I was crawling in fear. Bullets whizzed by my head. I don’t remember how my dream ended. With all that we’re going through, how could we not dream about it? If only all this could end, as dreams do.”

     The friends and family commiserate about their common plight, incensed and distressed about the illegal invasion of their homes and of their minds; as one woman cries, “I never imagined they would invade the private space that belongs to me alone. No one else knows this space.”

     At the heart of Soraida is the struggle of people to preserve their humanity even as they are treated with brutality. Soraida, a militant during the first intifada, agonizes over her role to play in the creation of a Palestinian state because of her belief in the humanity of all individuals: “The more I think of the humanity of the person before me, the stronger I get, and my humanity grows. In destroying him, I destroy myself, even if he is the enemy. When I strip him of his humanity, he strips me of mine.” Marking the documentary are her efforts to retain her own humanity in the midst of a crisis. Her simple acts of heroism, such as popping outside to clean the carpets during curfew, give her strength to endure a stifling situation.

     Soraida is particularly appropriate for high school Social Studies classes, particularly because of its association with current affairs, including the recent debilitation of Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, as well as its link to pop culture, such as Steven Spielberg’s recent release of the epic film Munich. The film gives Senior Years students an under-represented glimpse at Palestinian life in the occupied territories.


Pam Klassen-Dueck obtained her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees at the University of Manitoba. She has taught Grade 8 and Grade 11 English. Currently, she is enrolled in the pre-M.A. program at the U of M.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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