Out of Place: Memories of Edward Said
The Anis K. Makdisi Program in Literature held a screening of the documentary,
Out of Place: Memories of Edward Said, on May 8 in West Hall. The film
is the latest work of one of Japan's foremost documentary filmmakers,
Sato Makoto. It was shot in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, and New
York City over a period of two years.
When people read the title of the documentary, they expect it to be a
movie version of the book, Out of Place, the memoir published by Edward
Said in 1999. The documentary, however, is far from being a biography.
It is, rather, an amalgam of what Said's life might have been, and its
aim is to demonstrate how torn from his roots Said felt throughout his
life. The documentary does not necessarily talk about Said himself, but
it does show how every Palestinian living outside of Palestine might feel.
Included are interviews with Said's wife, daughter, and son, as well as
with colleagues and friends. Also included is old "home movie"
footage filmed by Said's father, Wadih, in the 1940s, and never before
shown publicly. Much of the documentary focuses on journeys into Said's
past residences, the one in Dhour El-Shweir, Lebanon, where Said and his
family used to spend summer vacations, and where people are interviewed
for their remembrances of the Said family, as well as the one in Brummana,
Lebanon, where Said's grave quietly resides in a shaded Quaker cemetery.
What is most striking to an Arab viewer, especially a Lebanese viewer,
is the journey to Ain El Heloueh Palestinian Refugee Camp, where the film
crew spent a few days and got the feel of what life is like in such a
camp. This had nothing to do with Said's life, but it does have a lot
to do with his cause to achieve an independent Palestine.
The screening was followed by a talk with the film's assistant director,
Najib El-Khash, who played a major role in the documentary as an interpreter.