Inheritance: Hiam Abbass’ directing debut
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Actress Hiam Abbass turns to directing and paints the portrait of a Palestinian family in Israel torn between tradition and modernity
You can feel it from the first scene: a continuous roar which comes and goes. It is the sound of airplanes, of helicopters, explosions and sirens. It is the sound of war. These are the sounds that accompany Inheritance [+see also:
interview: Hiam Abbas
film profile], Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass’s debut, presented at this year’s edition of Venice Days. The conflict – in this case between Israel and Lebanon – is not the central theme of the film. It remains in the background and is a constant noise. At the heart of the film, coproduced between France, Israel and Turkey, is a Palestinian family who lives in Israel. Its many members symbolise a community struggling to maintain its identity, torn between modernity and tradition.
The family’s young dream of the West, like Hajar, the female protagonist played by Hafsia Herzi. Hajar studies abroad, speaks English and has a British boyfriend. When she returns home to Galilee to celebrate her niece’s wedding, she decides to no longer hide her love, provoking an internal, family war. “The central themes are tradition: individuals, in order to make their own choices, must oppose themselves to these traditions and provoke a true kind of war,” explains Abbass. A family conflict with parents, but also a couple’s conflict with society. Dynamics within the family run parallel and then intertwine. There are those who get married without love and who end up paying the consequences. There are others who seek out a political dialogue, but get treated as collaborators. There are others finally who cannot have children, but blame their wives.
“Generally, when you are speaking about Palestinians, you think of them in Ramallah, or the refugees in Syria,” continues the director, “instead I wanted to tell this important part of society: the Palestinians of Israel, who feel partially excluded from the country in which they live, which is why they try and preserve their identity through a strong family structure which makes them feel at home.” An autobiographical note for Hiam Abbass, herself brought up in Galilee to then emigrate to London and Paris. “That’s the society I left behind when I decided to look for my way somewhere else. “ The roar of the planes in the film are exactly the same as the ones which accompanied her during her childhood. “A dramatic background which persecutes you. A war which torments people’s minds.”
(Translated from Italian)
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