The Time that Remains (2011)
Director: Elia Suleiman.
Starring: Ali Suliman (Eliza's Boyfriend), Elia Suleiman (ES), Saleh Bakri (Fuad), Menashe Noy (Taxi Driver), Nati Ravitz (IDF Commander), Avi Kleinberger (Government Official), Amer Hlehel (Anis), Baher Agbariya (Iraqi soldier), Doraid Liddawi (Ramalla IDF officer), Ayman Espanioli (ES, Teenager), Ehab Assal (Man With Cell Phone / Tank), Alex Bakri (Man Who Shoots Himself), George Khleifi (Mayor), Lotuf Neusser (Abu Elias), Yaniv Biton (Haganah Soldier).
creation of the state of Israel in 1948 through to the present day
Nazareth is 30 km I(19 miles) southwest of Tiberias, which is on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee. Nazareth and Tiberias are a part of Galilee. Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. It is known as "the Arab capital of Israel" because the population is made up predominantly of Arab citizens of Israel, almost all of whom are either Muslim (69%) or Christian (30.9%).
A taxi cab driver is taking an Arab passenger to the hospital so he can visit his mother there, but a storm hits and he loses his way for awhile. He tries to get the taxi dispatcher on the radio, but without success. He says to himself: "Where do I go now? How do I get home?"
Flashback. Six men sit at the Rida Cafe in Galilee. They all are armed. A soldier passes by in a hurry and one of the armed men asks him where is he headed to? The soldier stops and answers: "Arab Liberation Army. Going to liberate Tiberias." The questioner points in the opposite direction and says Tiberias is that way. The solider starts walking in that direction but another of the armed men stops him to say: "Don't bother. It's been liberated." Now the men ask him where is he from? The soldiers says he's from Iraq. They tell the soldier to sit down with them.
A car with a loud speaker comes by the cafe, saying: "People of Galilee, the hour of liberation has come. The Israeli Defense Army is here to halt the advance of criminal gangs falsely calling themselves a 'liberation army'. Residents of Galilee, lay down your arms and raise the white flag. The hour of your liberation has come. Rid yourselves of the armed gangs who are oppressing you and help the Israeli Army to bring peace to this part of Palestine."
A car carrying a white flag speeds fast up a mountain, while it is being harassed by a small plane that dives down on it repeatedly. The car reaches the top of the mountain and the Mayor gets out and goes into the building where a roomful of people are waiting for him. The Israelis are on one side of the room and the Arabs on the other side. The Mayor is here to sign the official surrender. The surrender states that: "Nazareth unconditionally surrenders to the Israeli Army. . . . All arms and ammunition will be surrendered to the Israeli Army. The military commander is authorized to sentence any transgressor to death at his sole discretion. The Mayor will stay in charge of civil affairs. . . ." The Mayor signs. The date is July 16th, 1948. The Mayor poses for a picture with the Israelis.
Fighting still goes on in Nazareth. Israeli troops dress some of their men in Palestinian type head dress. The Israeli troops march through the neighborhood. An Arab woman thinks that the troops are Palestinian and she comes out shouting for them: "Grand Mufti Husseini, crush them! With the sword transfix them! Victory is ours! They've been brought to their knees!" One of the Israeli troops shoots the woman dead.
Arabs are rounded up by the fake Palestinian troops. Arabs come to turn in their weapons. They are held as prisoners. One of the men, who looks like an intellectual and who was sitting with the Arab men at Rida Cafe, comes in with no visible weapon. He reads something written on a piece of paper. He reads: "I want no life if we're not respected in our land. If our words are not heard echoing in the world, I shall carry my soul in the palm of my hand tossing it into the cavern of death." He folds up the piece of paper and puts it in his jacket pocket. He takes off his glasses and puts them in his jacket pocket. Now he takes his pistol out and shoots himself in the right temple. He crumples to the ground.
The Israelis put a curfew into effect for Nazareth residents.
The fellow, named Fuad, who first asked the Iraqi soldier where he was going waits for the Mayor to arrive. He comes in and tells the man and two women that a car will take them to the border. Sister Olga is stuck in Jerusalem and will manage by herself.
Fuad works on producing automatic weapons for the Arabs. One of his five buddies at the Rida Cafe, comes in to say that he and his family are leaving. He says now there's nothing to fight for.
Fuad gets a letter. It says: "Fuad, my love. Anis has decided we'll leave for Amman until things calm down. You know how hard this is for me. You are distraught at what is happening to our homeland. Forgive me for taking this step at this difficult time. I have never wanted to add to your burden, but my only consolation, as I disappear from your life, would be if you considered laying down your arms. By doing so, you would calm your mother's worries and mine. . . . Watch over your dear sister Nadia, and lastly, stay faithful to our love and our homeland. Eternally yours, Thuraya."
Israeli troops pass by in jeeps and personnel carriers. A man comes to Fuad's house to tell him that there is a wounded man laying out there in the street. Fuad goes with the man to pick up the wounded man. Faud bangs on a door and then they pick up the wounded man. They kick the door open and go inside the courtyard. They bandage the wound. The fellow tells the two rescuers that he is from Bisan, a city in the North District of Israel which has played an important role historically due to its geographical location at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and Jezreel Valley. [It's 37 km (23 miles) southeast of Nazareth.]
They put the fellow on a bed and Fuad says he will check on him later. The two rescuers now see one of Fuad's buddies leaving town. The two are spotted by three Israeli soldiers who tell them to stop. Fuad starts running away, but the other man is caught.
Fuad sees Israeli soldiers looting goods from an Arab house. They fill up their jeep with the goods.
Fuad runs home. The Israelis force the captured rescuer to show them the way to his buddy's house. They grab Fuad. There is an orchard where many Arab prisoners are being kept blindfolded. The man in charge of the operation is told that Fuad is the gun maker. So they chase off Fuad's buddy, but keep Fuad. Fuad is taken to the orchard. His hands are bound behind his back and he is blindfolded. Fuad won't talk so the Israeli guards beat him mercilessly with their rifles butts and then throw him over the side of the mountain.
Fuad's wife writes a letter to her friend Nadia. She writes that Fuad is doing much better now. His chest is hurting less. Her boy Elia is fine and his grades at school are excellent. The economy is getting worse. Electricity and kerosene prices keep going up. She also writes of an eccentric neighbor who douses himself with kerosene and tries to burn himself to death. He usually does not succeed.
The woman neighbor comes again to get Fuad to stop her father-in-law from burning himself. Dad gets a few more cigarette puffs in and then gets up to go save his neighbor. The old man says over and over that he can't take it anymore, as he tries unsuccessfully to light a match. Fuad goes over to the elderly man and takes the matches from him. The eccentric fellow asks what kind of life is this to live?
A guest of honor pays a visit to a school, where Arab school children sing Jewish songs for the guest of honor. The guest of honor says he is proud to award this school chorus first prize in the Hebrew singing competition. A journalist takes a picture of the guest of honor handing the principal the award.
The boy Elia is scolded at school for saying America is colonialist. He is told not to say such things in class.
A neighbor, Aunt Olga, gives Elia some food to take to his mother. Elia just dumps the food in the garbage and gives the plate to his mother to wash. The doctor is taking Fuad's blood pressure. He scolds his patient because he was told to smoke less and to fish less at night when it's so cold.
A jeep with Israeli troops stops to check on Fuad and a neighbor fishing at night. They shout questions down to the two fishermen who answer them from the water's edge. The questioner then says: "Okay, have fun!" The jeep pulls away from the top of the cliff.
The old man who keeps threatening to set himself afire comes over to talk to Fuad. He has some screwball idea about drinking being able to aide the Arabs in their fight with Israel.
Aunt Olga comes over to Fuad's house at dinner time to tell everyone that she saw Nadia at a charity event in aid of Palestinian refugees. She made such a beautiful speech that King Hussein greeted her in person. With that, she turns and leaves.
Fuad still continues making guns.
The Arab school children at school watch a famous film called "Spartacus" with Kirk Douglas. The teacher has to censor a scene involving kissing.
Fuad and his family hear over the radio that: "President Nasser of Egypt has declared that the Arabs support the international peace initiatives, but that there is no genuine will from the Israelis . . . Their leaders' recent declarations show their refusal to withdraw from all occupied Arab lands." The broadcast is partly interrupted by the coming of the daughter-in-law to get Fuad to help her with her father-in-law once again.
Fuad takes a ride in his car toward downtown. On a bridge a huge truck has flipped onto its side and it blocks all traffic trying to use the bridge. A policeman tells Fuad to turn his car around and go back. But Fuad wonders what has happened to the truck driver because, for sure, the policeman is doing nothing to save anyone. So Fuad stops his car and walks right over to the truck. He jumps on top of the wreckage and finds a man injured just laying there. Later, the two men are put in hospital beds that are side by side.
Fuad and his buddy are back doing their night fishing. And again the Israelis stop and ask the men the same questions as always. And they end with: "Okay, have fun!"
The crazy neighbor has another talk with Fuad. He has another wild plan: get Lebanon to attack Israel. Israel retaliates and then the French come to the aide of Lebanon.
Elia gets in trouble at the school again. The same guy asks him why did Elia say in class that America is imperialist? Elia is again warned not to say such things in class.
President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt dies, September 28, 1970.
Once again Fuad saves the crazy neighbor from burning himself to death.
Fuad and his buddy are out fishing again. This time the Israelis shine the light on them, but they don't ask the two Arabs any questions.
There is a heavy knock at the door and a lot of bell ringing. Fuad is being arrest for smuggling arms from Lebanon by sea. The family sits on the couch as the police search the apartment. Fuad speaks to an Arab policemen and tells him: "You aren't even ashamed of yourself." The policeman says this is his job, so what can he do about it?
The police don't find anything, but they are still taking Fuad to the police station. Elia watches in silence as his father is taken away.
Fuad's wife writes another letter to Nadia. Fuad's open-heart surgery was 100% successful. In school, Elia was accused of tearing the Israeli flag. He had to leave the country.
The news over the radio is: "This fourth anniversary of March 30, 1976, the first Day of the Land, has been commemorated by the Palestinians of 1948. Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to protest against Israel's continued land annexation policy. In Nazareth and Galilee, a banner proclaimed: 'We are staying!' A number of demonstrators were injured in clashes with the police. Dozens of them were arrested and imprisoned."
It's the crazy neighbor again, but this time he is with his grown son. More crazy nonsense.
The Arab policeman comes to Fuad's house. He tells the mother that Elia has been denounced and has just 24 hours to leave the country.
There are demonstrations out on the streets. Elia looks out from his window. The Israelis are shooting at the young people.
A wounded demonstrator is brought to the hospital. The army fights against the hospital staff for the control of the demonstrator. Possession of the body changes hands several times, until the army threatens to shoot the doctors. The army gets the demonstrator. Fuad is at the hospital for a check-up. Elia takes him from the hospital. He stops at a pharmacy on the way home. Dad falls to sleep in the car.
At the start of the movie there was a passenger being driven home by a taxi driver who got totally lost in an absolute downpour of rain. His name is Elia Suleiman. This man now comes home. He lets himself into the house. A Christmas tree is up in a corner of the living room, so one could guess that the man is an Arab Christian. The doorbell rings and the man sees a policeman outside the door. He opens the door and the policeman neighbor gives him a dish of Tabbouleh to welcome him home. [Tabbouleh is an Arab salad of cracked wheat mixed with finely chopped ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, and parsley.]
A woman who looks to be an Indian from the Spanish or Portuguese countries in the Western hemisphere and the policeman works to keep the Elia Suleiman house in ship-shape condition. Elia doesn't talk for some reason. The policeman complains to Elia and his mother about the crime in the neighborhood.
Elia has coffee with two of his old buddies. The three men see a man walking past them. The young fellow waves to the older men. Then a guy who loves to whistle comes by the men whistling.
Watching TV together Elia tries to touch his mother's hand, but she keeps swatting the hand away. Later she gets out of bed and eats some ice cream. The next day the Indian woman yells at her for her high blood sugar, saying that mother must have eaten ice cream again. She gives mother another insulin shot for her diabetes.
Mother sits on the balcony having some coffee. Elia puts some speakers on the balcony so mother can listen to music.
Back outside at the cafe, Elia and his two buddies see the guy who waves to everyone going by. Then the whistler goes by. But the whistler is not whistling and the three men want to know why. The whistler starts whistling and just walks away from the men.
The Indian woman sings karaoke in the living room. Not being a native English speaker she does very well singing a Celine Dion song from the movie the Titanic (1997).
The family watches fire works go off not far from their balcony. It's quite and impressive display.
Elia goes for a drive in a van. The van stops and picks up other people and they give the money to the driver. He keeps looking at the pretty young woman on his left. Elia gets off at a cafe.
Elia is sleeping soundly when he hears a helicopter followed by lots of sirens. He gets up to look out the window. Nothing much has changed. There are demonstrations in the street and the Israelis are shooting at the demonstrators who are throwing rocks.
A huge tank stops in front of a house. A man takes his garbage out to the garbage can. With every movement he makes the huge cannon on the tank follows the man. But the guy completely ignores the cannon. He walks back and forth in the road talking on his cell phone with the cannon always pointed at his head.
Kids in the neighborhood are out at a club dancing beyond curfew hour. An Israeli jeeps pulls up and over the loudspeaker a soldier tells everyone that it is past curfew and everyone has to stop dancing and go home. The kids just ignore the Israeli soldiers. After awhile, the Israelis just leave.
Elia pole vaults over a concrete wall.
Back to the present. Elia sits in the backseat of the car, while the depressed cab driver rests his head on the steering wheel.
Elia goes to visit his mother in the hospital. She takes her glasses off. She then removes her oxygen tubes from her nose.
In the hallway, Elia watches the people, patients, doctors and nurses go back and forth.
The movie was a bit weird and absurd at times. But I think that's what was intended. The film deals with the occupation of Nazareth, Tiberias and other Arab strongholds by the Israelis. Nothing is ever the same after that. The Arabs are an occupied people and have to try to slide around the workings of the police state that faces them. Of course, the Arabs don't like the occupation, but what can they really do? And yet, many never give up their resistance attempts. Many situations of oppression are presented. Some of them are rather comical, and others sad. Anyway, I enjoyed the movie even despite it being a bit weird at times. We don't see many Arab movies criticizing the Israelis, but this one does show the difficulties of a people living under occupation. I would recommend the movie because it gives the viewer a more fully complete view of life in Israel. You see how the other half lives. Same as with the USA. Showing life in the USA without showing the lives of any blacks or browns gives a distorted picture of the country.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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