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Some of the Palestinians – Restored

We have digitally restored the original ‘Some of the Palestinians’ – a 55-minute documentary directed and edited by Mamoun Hassan when he was stationed with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Lebanon in 1974.

The film opens with a day in the life of Dr Murad, a Palestinian doctor appointed by the UNRWA to look after the health of the Palestinian people in a Syrian refugee camp. It progresses to a recently bombed camp in Lebanon to the West Bank, via Jordan.

The crew members and in Lebanon, the cinematographer, were Palestinians working in UNRWA’s Audio Visual Division, the rest of the film was shot by Ernie Vincze, the distinguished British documentary and feature cinematographer.

The final section presents a somewhat more acceptable picture of Palestinian life supported by UNRWA-sponsored humanitarian projects in women’s education and art in Ramallah.  This last section was not directed by Mamoun, he explains why…

I landed in Beirut with my wife and young family on 19 April 1974 to take up my appointment as Head of Films Branch, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). A leftist leader had been assassinated in South Lebanon the previous day and that event is regarded  as the start  of the civil war. A few days later I drove down to Nabatieh Palestinian refugee camp in South Lebanon to film the consequence of Israeli bombing. The camp had been obliterated. A few days later I filmed the effect of bombing in Rashidieh, a camp further down the coast near Tyre.

The brief was to document the services – Housing, Education, Health, Rations – that UNRWA offered the Palestinian refugees.  My immediate boss and chief of the AV division was the legendary Myrtle Winter-Chaumeny (writer, photographer, sailor, dancer); the director of Information was John Defrates, the bravest man I have ever met, who was a Navy pilot in the icy waters near Vladivostock during WWll. I was given a fairly free hand but editorial control rested with UNRWA. What I saw in South Lebanon and elsewhere gave me the form of the film: the experience of life in the camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan  – but not the West Bank because Israel refused me entry. Myrtle filmed that sequence.

So the story is about war in Lebanon; life in one the oldest camps near Aleppo established in 1948; work in Baqa’a in Jordan which accommodated thousands of fleeing refugees after the 1967 war;  and education in Ramallah.

Mamoun is keen for people to view this film. It is a timely reminder that UNRWA’s humanitarian work is not done, despite the decision of the US administration to cut $300 m from its planned annual contribution to the UNRWA budget in 2018.

He says,

“Since I made this film,  everything has changed for the worse for the Palestinian people. The locations for the film are now war zones or something very similar.  The tragedy continues.”

The restoration was made from an answer print of the edited film.  This version did not have English subtitles for spoken Arabic.  By referring to the only other known copy – a print held at the National Film Archive – we were able to transfer the subtitles exactly as they appeared on the film, which was invited to the London Film Festival in 1976.

LFF Certificate

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In Conversation – Lindsay Anderson and Mamoun Hassan

In May 1973, just after the release of Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man, London University Audio Visual (LUAV) filmed a conversation/interview with Lindsay Anderson and me. O Lucky Man was the focus of the interview, which was part of an LUAV planned series of interviews with leading figures of the time. The results would be kept in a kind of time capsule and would not be released until fifty or a hundred years later. The project was abandoned early on.

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My Brother the Devil at BFI London Film Festival

This week’s BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL featured a new British movie MY BROTHER THE DEVIL (Dir. Sally El Hosaini 2012). The film, on which Mamoun provided editing consultancy, is set in gangland London and stars fresh new actors James Floyd and Fady Elsayed as young British Arab brothers.

The story has struck a chord with young audiences world wide including those at the FILMS FROM THE SOUTH festival in Oslo, where Mamoun saw the film last week while visiting with ANDRES WOOD (Andres’ recent film VIOLETA WENT TO HEAVEN appeared at both festivals).

The relevant and controversial themes are reminiscent of the incendiary film BABYLON (1981 Dir. Franco Rosso) funded under Mamoun’s watch as the Managing Director of the National Film Finance Corporation, the  UK’s government arm for investing in feature production and development.

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With Andres Wood in Oslo

Films from the South Festival - OsloMamoun has just returned from the FILMS FROM THE SOUTH festival in OSLO
where he accompanied his close friend, co-writer and producer colleague
the leading South American director ANDRES WOOD to showings of his three
latest works:

Machuca 2004 CHILE Dir. Andres Wood,(co-writer and co-producer Mamoun
Hassan)
La Buena Vida 2008 CHILE Dir. Andres Wood (co-writer and co-producer
Mamoun Hassan)
Violeta Went to Heaven 2011  CHILE Dir. Andres Wood

Andres’ latest work VIOLETA WENT TO HEAVEN  took the World Cinema Jury
Prize at SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2012 and is appearing at this week’s BFI
LONDON FILM FESTIVAL and will be on theatrical release in North America
from November.

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Preview of ‘Encounter with Kurosawa’

Mamoun previews a section from work in progress.

The chapter is entitled: ‘Encounter with Kurosawa

Content Copyright©Mamoun Hassan 2011

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