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Leeds Palestinian Film Festival – Roadmap to Apartheid

Director: Eron Davidson & Ana Nogueira

Narrator: Alice Walker

Reviewer: Rich Jevons

Ana Nogueira (a white South African) and Eron Davidson (a Jewish Israeli) make their debut documentary comparing the systems of apartheid in South Africa and Palestine. It makes parallels through using archive footage, interviews, and commentary and presents a convincing case for both the way injustice is being done and what we can do to stop it.

The film benefits from some excellent data visualizations, animations, and split-screen effects. It uses archive footage spliced in with contemporary film, making the most of a plethora of interviews with those directly affected by apartheid in both regions, then and now. 

As Abraham Greenhouse expounds in his review of the film, it deals with all the major issues:

…siege mentality colonialism, forced migration, checkpoints, passes, foreign natives, present absentees, partition and proxy rule, bombing and boycotts, bulldozers and Bantustans.

The film succeeds in expressing what Derek Jarman would call ‘personal politics’ in the way apartheid affects ordinary people. The most dramatic moments are seen in the destruction of homes, some still inhabited, to make way for colonisation.

One fact that stands out is the way that new settlements are positioned in key areas to make life difficult, if not impossible, for displaced communities to exist. This comes down to simple things such as clean water or electricity as well as freedom of movement and the right to work.

As South African poet Don Mattera observes:

You can shave off my hair. New hair will grow. You can spit in my face. I will find water to wash it. You can take away my clothes and leave me naked. I will find a blanket. But if you take away my house, and dignity, where can I go? Where?

In response to this question, the film goes on to look at the way global campaigns eradicated apartheid in South Africa and possibilities for similar resistance to the situation in Palestine. Whilst avoiding agitprop or propaganda it shows a way forward for the future of an international response to this burning issue.

Reviewed as part of the Leeds Palestinian Film Festival 

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Riveting, radical

The Reviews Hub - South West

The Southwest team is under the editorship of Holly Spanner. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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