Portraits of Denial & Desire
A film by John Halaka

Portraits of Denial & Desire is a documentary film that explores and creatively presents the personal narratives of Palestinian refugees who have been displaced from their homes and homeland and continue to live in exile or under occupation. The 110-minute film will be composed of six segments, each telling part of the story of modern Palestine through the formative personal experiences, memories and desires of a few individuals who have lived that complex history. At the core of every segment of the film are personal stories that will be directly recounted by individuals selected from three different generations of Palestinian refugees: The 1948 generation that experienced the ethnic cleansing of their homeland; their children, who were born in exile or under occupation and are now in their 60's, 50's and 40's; and their grandchildren, also born in exile or under occupation and are now in their 30's and 20's.

It is my belief and guiding principle in this project, that personal experiences narrated directly by an individual, are the most effective method of preserving and conveying history and the most meaningful way of igniting social and political transformation. The African-American writer James Baldwin expressed this approach most clearly when he said: “When circumstances are made real by another's testimony, it becomes possible to envision change.

The documentary is being developed in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Israel. Those countries hold the largest concentrations of Palestinian refugees and contain (except for Israel) all of the United Nations administered refugee camps for Palestinians. Four and half million registered Palestinian refugees exist in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. (It's estimated that another five million unregistered Palestinian refugee are scattered globally.) The great majority of them have amazing personal stories about exile, survival and resistance that remain unrecorded and unheard.

Indigenous Palestinians have faced an ongoing cultural genocide over the past 65 years and continue to experience a forced odyssey that has been characterized by repeated cycles of catastrophic displacement, debilitating deprivation, tenacious resistance and remarkable resilience. Palestinians have been rendered into an absence in their native homeland and are no longer seen as a people, but as disparate refugee communities. The continuity of their stories ensures their presence and survival.

Anticipated release: TBA, SittingCrow Productions
Produced, filmed, written, narrated and directed by John Halaka.
Edited by Marissa Bowman.
Running time: TBA

For further information regarding the film, please contact John Halaka at [email protected] or call 619.260.4107.