Palestinian filmmakers are largely dependent on foreign funding for production and on foreign festivals for publicity. Making a Palestinian film can seem as “impossible” as remaining Palestinian amid fragmenting effects of occupation/war and peace accords. Against such pressures, Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir tells stories with protagonists, who, for foreign funders, can seem like “unruly subjects” for remaining Palestinian. As a consequence, her films themselves can seem like “unruly subjects” to industry film critics. Her films like twenty impossibles (ka’inana ashrun mustaheel, 2003), Salt of This Sea (Milh Hadha al-Bahr, 2008), When I Saw You (Lamma Shoftak, 2012), and Wajib (2017) tell stories about Palestinians debating each other (rather than Israelis via US negotiators) during key moments in Palestinian history, including the Nakba (1948), the Naksa (1967), the Oslo Accords (1993), and Al-Aqsa or second Intifada (2000–05). Jacir’s protagonists refuse the limiting choices on offer. They demand to be recognized as Palestinian, as does Jacir as a Palestinian filmmaker against the efforts of Western industry critics, festivals, and funders to label her as an “Arab woman filmmaker,” often carrying colonial assumptions of “oppressed” or “exceptional” women throughout Southwest Asia (“the Middle East”). Her films do more than offer a glimpse of everyday life to “humanize” Palestinians; they are “unruly subjects” that unsettle assumptions to reframe the debates.

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