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Looted and Hidden – Palestinian Archives in Israel

  • Manjm 1 Ha-Katar Street Haifa, Haifa District (map)
Rona sela looted and hidden Manjm alaa hlehl

The film LOOTED & HIDDEN deals with Palestinian archives plundered by Jewish/Israeli military bodies and soldiers, or looted by civilians who have internalized the codes of power during the 20th century and are controlled by the Israeli military archives. It explores, for the first time, how Israeli colonial regime takes as booty Palestinian treasures, buries and conceals Palestinian history from the public sphere through mechanisms of control. The film is focused on the cinematic and other treasures that Israel took as booty in Beirut in the 1980s from various visual and research institutions and to their creators/scholars. 

Akin to a detective novel, the film follows few characters that are involved in the fate of the Palestinian archives that were plundered in Beirut. But unlike the detective novel, all the characters are real and the narrators lead them through an exchange of letters or monologs.

Each of the film's narrators portrays a real character who has been linked to the fate of the archives, including Khadijeh Habashneh, director and manager of the PCI archive and cinematheque, and Sabri Jiryis, director of the Palestinian Research Center. The film also follows the work of Ismail Shammout and Tamam Al-Akhal, two important post-Nakba Palestinian painters who founded the PLO’s CAS, as well as singer Zainab Shathat. The film follows them through Fassuta, Amman, Beirut, and Tel Aviv.

The film includes excerpts from the 1970s film The Urgent Call (directed by Ismail Shammott, music composed and performed by Zeinab Sha'ath) that, like many other Palestinian archival materials, was considered lost until now. 

Rona Sela is a researcher of visual history and curator. Looted and Hidden is her first film