YIDFF 2013 New Asian Currents
Two Meters of This Land
An Interview with Ahmad Natche (Director)

The Concept of “Space” in Palestinian Life

Q: I was very interested by the fact that in your film, the camera seldom follows people, but instead stays very still. You yourself said that the main character of your film is “. . . not a person, but a space.” Why did you choose to make “space” the main character in your film?

AN: I think that how people live in a space, how they experience the space is the main subject of the Palestinians’ daily life. I wanted to make a film about the observation of a space, and it was important to concentrate all the things that I wanted to show about Palestine into this portion of space in one single evening.

Q: Your film did not show any footage of the music festival after it started, but did you take any footage of the music festival itself?

AN: It was the initial idea not to shoot the music festival—that was clear from the beginning. The summer before the shooting, I went to many music festivals two hours before the shows started, and I looked at what was happening there, what kind of people were meeting there. I took notes with my video camera, and with all these things that I saw before the show, I wrote a script with some characters and dialogue. This was the base of the shooting the following summer.

Q: The scenes of the two women talking in the audience seats and the man reciting the poem by the poet’s tomb were very thought-provoking. Were these scenes planned, or spontaneous?

AN: The film is a mix of more controlled scenes and less controlled scenes, with more intervention and less intervention. For example, the scene of the two women talking was very staged, but I didn’t manipulate the development of the scene. The final scene in particular was one of the most dramatized and controlled scenes. But though I asked the actors to read the poem and gave them a general line to act, they didn’t read or study any script. Of course that poem was important to me because it gave the title to the film: “Two Meters of This Land.” This title, which is a line of the poem, fixes and focuses attention on a space, and on the idea of space as well. It makes reference to the space that the poet, Mahmoud Darwish, will need the day he dies, but this is not only a reference to a space of death, but also a space of life. A poem expresses sensations in words, and I wanted to do a similar thing in my film, but with pictures and sounds, not words.

The enclosures of space in the film can also be seen as a metaphor of the difficult experience of the Palestinians, because Palestinians have been dispossessed of their original space, or displaced to another space. It can be seen as a metaphor, but I didn’t want to express my political ideas in the film. I wanted only to show a portion of Palestine—show, not demonstrate—and to let emotions and ideas emerge from the things themselves. But even if politics are not very visible in the film, from my point of view this is a political film, because we gave time and space to things that we usually don’t see on television or in the cinema. For me, it was important to use the still camera to portray these realities because we were working with uncontrolled actions and uncontrolled performances. In the film, there was a progression from more static things to more movement at the end. As the actors moved more, I didn’t want to control how they interacted. It was important to give more weight to the actions themselves.

(Compiled by Kotaki Yukie)

Interviewers: Kotaki Yukie, Nomura Yukihiro / Interpreter: Saito Shinko / Translator: Kato Lisa Somers
Photography: Kato Noriko / Video: Kato Noriko / 2013-10-13