Un Certain Regard: “Salt of This Sea” by Annemarie Jacir

Julia Brechler
Director Annemarie Jacir's first feature, "Salt of This Sea" screened at Un Certain Regard today. It is also competing for the Caméra d’Or.

Annemarie Jacir presented her first feature film, Salt of This Sea, also eligible for the Caméra d’Or, in the Un Certain Regard selection today. The young Palestinian director first attracted notice on the Croisette with her short film Like Twenty Impossibles, which screened on the Cinéfondation program in 2003. With Salt of This Sea, Annemarie Jacir narrates Soraya’s quest for self-realization, which requires a memorial journey to a lost Palestine. Born in Brooklyn, Soraya longs to settle in the land her family was exiled from in 1948… Her path crosses that of Emad, a young Palestinian who, unlike her, wants to leave forever…

On the title of her film, Jacir had this to say: “I first chose the title in Arabic that we then translated as Salt of This Sea. The film talks so much about the sea… about the character’s relationship with it, about what the sea means to the Palestinians. We are a Mediterranean society so we live with the sea but, today, the sea is something that we can no longer reach. Some Palestinians have never seen the sea… For the refugees hounded out in 1948, the sea was the last thing they saw of Palestine. There’s a book of memoirs written by Chafiq Al-Hout, a Palestinian exiled from Jaffa, where he speaks about this moment in 1948…They were on the boats and he was looking at Jaffa and the boat was moving further away… That’s the first shot of my film.”

Present on stage to present the film with Annemarie were producers Marianne Dumoulin et Jacques Bidou, co-producer Danny Glover, and actors Suheir Hammad and Saleh Bakri. Danny Glover began, “ We’re here to tell a story; we’re storytellers. We value the stories that inhabit our lives…a story about memory, about passion and I’m glad that so many of you are here to share this with us because you become a part of this process as well.”

Annemarie Jacir added, “ This is a very emotional moment and a very special moment and it’s for us a celebration and its also a commemoration of the Naqbah which occurred 60 years ago this week; yesterday was the official commemoration, but it’s a long process. Thank you for being here with us for this moment.”