A trail of memories connects disparate places, from the film director in Syria and the artist Samia Halaby who paints and films Ramallah, to Bisan who wanders aimlessly through Jerusalem. Guided by Samia’s paintings of the olives and the wind of Palestine, gathering the stones and soil of Ramallah that are the “words of the Palestinian people,” the film evokes the space of exiled Palestinians. Their gaze, thoughts, and unspoken words become the light of the film that reflects back on the audience.
I received a present from the Palestinian painter and my friend Samia Al Halaby, a stone from an olive grove in the city of Ramallah. This was ten years after I received my first present, a Jerusalem stone, from a Palestinian friend who I used to meet mostly outside of my country, Syria. I have since then collected a wide variety of stones from Palestinian cities in a special album.
It was that year as well that the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, one of the most important characters in the film by Jean-Luc Godard, Notre musique (Our Music), died on August 9, 2008.
Darwish ascended to the heavens, heavy with the wounds of his usurped country, Jean-Luc Godard is still making films and lighting our nights, Samia is still painting and dreaming of her family’s house in Jerusalem, and Bisan, the girl from Jerusalem, is still walking in the alleys of ancient Jerusalem, passing by the surrounding hills without knowing her destination.