Michel Khleifi: Fertile memory (Le mémoire fertile)

Fertile memory (Le mémoire fertile), Michel Khleifi, 99’, Belgium / Palestine,  ZDF 19.3.1981, OV with German subtitles

Palestinian filmmaker Michel Khleifi portrays two women in his documentary: the writer Sahar Khalifa and his own aunt. Sahar represents the emancipated woman. At the age of thirty, she files for divorce. She works as a teacher and writer and lives alone with her daughter. Khleifi’s widowed aunt, on the other hand, considered it improper to remarry after her husband’s death. Yet, she too is independent, has raised her children by herself and pursued a career. She refuses to give up her claim on her farmland confiscated by the Israelis and accept compensation. Fertile Memory uncovers the traces of dual occupation in its protagonists’ lives. They suffer not just from the effects of Israeli rule, but also from the restrictions of a patriarchal society. (Source: Shafik, Viola: Eine Frau, ein Land. In: Augen-Blick. Marburger Hefte zur Medienwissenschaft, Issue 16: Das Dritte Kino in Arabien und Afrika (1993), pp. 54–63.)

Michel Khleifi (*1950) is a Palestinian scriptwriter, film director and film producer. After emigrating from Israel to Belgium, he worked for Belgian television before he began making documentary and feature films. His films have screened at international festivals in Cannes, Berlin, San Sebastian and Yamagata and won many awards. The first documentary he made for Das kleine Fernsehspiel was Fertile Memory (1980), which was also shown in the Berlinale Forum. This was followed by the feature films Wedding in Galilee (1987) and Canticle of the Stones (1990), which are now considered important works of Palestinian cinema.