Rawan Damen shares her experiences in documenting Palestinian life in lecture

Rawan Damen, a Palestinian filmmaker and media consultant, discussed her efforts to raise awareness of the Palestinian quest for freedom through documentaries in a lecture organized by the Faculty of Arts at Birzeit University on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. 

In the lecture, Damen − who is teaching an intensive, two-week course on media and storytelling at the university − emphasized the need for each Palestinian to participate in creating and spreading an authentic Palestinian narrative that counters and refutes the Israeli occupation’s claims and draws attention to the Palestinian aspirations for independence. 

“The goal of the Israeli occupation is to completely remove any mention of Palestine in all platforms and languages; this is us fighting back and spreading the truth,” Damen said, highlighting her series of documentaries that explore different aspects of Palestinian life under occupation. 

Showcasing the documentaries to the attendees, Damen focused not only on the content and cinematography but also on the story that each of the films presents to its viewers. One of the documentaries she mentioned, “Al-Nakba,” is a four-hour series that eschews the traditional motif of an old abandoned Palestinian home for a closer narrative that focuses on the people dispersed and relationships broken by the Israeli occupation. 

“When telling a story, you have to draw parallels between yourself and the viewer; that is, you have to find areas of common ground to convey your point of view and make it understood,” Damen explained. “Students not being able to organize a reunion in their old high school because they were all forcibly displaced from their homes and towns will evoke more of an emotional response from viewers than shots of old dilapidated homes whose owners were expelled by the Israeli army.” 

Concluding the lecture, Damen asserted that it is the responsibility of all Palestinians to raise awareness of the Israeli occupation’s violations and illegal land grabs, urging the attendees to make use of social media platforms to spread videos and content on the Palestinians’ 71-year quest for independence.