A Cinema of Nowhere

At a time when Palestinian artistic production remains closely tied to the land and confined within the limits of a collective identity, the filmmaker Elia Suleiman is distinguished by an unabashedly critical and individualistic perspective. Far from advocating a return to Palestine or the reunification of the territory, he aspires in his work to "the transgression of national borders" and to a "detachment from the specificity of place." In a similar vein, he strives to avoid static notions of identity and territory, seeing dynamism and movement as sources of meaning and artistic creation. He is also one of the rare Palestinian artists to make extensive use of irony and self-mocking.
    Born in Nazareth in 1960, Elia Suleiman lived for over a decade in New York and is largely self-taught as a filmmaker. His principal films are Introduction to the End of an Argument (1991), Homage by Assassination (1992), Chronicle of a Disappearance (1996), and Arab Dream (1998). Concerning Chronicle of a Disappearance, Suleiman's best known work, film critic Stanley Kauffmann of the New Republic wrote (30 June 1997) that it "is a film of the Absurd. If Ionesco had been a Palestinian and a filmmaker, he might have made it. ...Like all good Absurdists, [Suleiman] looks at things bifocally: from the point of view of a fly on the wall and under the eye of eternity."
    Elia Suleiman was interviewed in Jerusalem by Anne Bourlond in February and July 1999. The interview was published in the fall 1999 issue of the IPS's French quarterly, Revue d'études palestiniennes.