The Independent: A plea from Palestine’s first female director Judge me by my films not my gender

TUESDAY 02 APRIL 2013

One recent trend in world cinema that has become hard to ignore is the rapid emergence of Arab women film-makers. Directors such as Saudi Arabian Haifaa Al-Mansour, Palestine-American Cherien Dabis and Lebanese Nadine Labaki have been feted at festivals all round the world. Acknowledging this new wave, the Birds Eye View Film Festival is this year celebrating female Arab film-makers.

Not that all the directors involved relish their work being judged in terms of their gender or Arabic background. Annemarie Jacir is often called Palestine’s “first woman feature film director” but the label is clearly beginning to grate a little. Jacir (whose new feature, When I Saw You, opens the festival next week) would prefer to be acknowledged as a film-maker in her own right rather than as a standard bearer for Arab womanhood.

“I don’t think women make different kinds of films to men,” Jacir states. “You just want to be a film-maker. Yes, I am Palestinian, yes, I am a woman – but I am so many other things too… it does box you in at times.”

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