The Palestinian Cultural Club, in collaboration with The Environment and Sustainable Development Unit and ULYP, screened Mai Masri’s film “3000 Nights” on Friday, March 31, in West Hall’s Bathish Auditorium.
The event was held as a fundraiser, with ticket sales going to creating a scholarship program that supports Palestinian and Arab female students enrolled in the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences.
Inspired by a true story, Mai Masri’s movie portrays the life of a Palestinian woman, Layal, who is dragged to prison in the middle of the night, accused of taking part in an attack against one of the Israeli military bases after giving a ride to a teenage boy, who was one of the participants in this assault. Layal refuses to testify against the kid in court, so she is then sentenced to eight years in an Israeli women’s prison.
The tension between the two opposing poles of Israeli and Palestinian gangs is clearly defined within the jailhouse. Having typical racist characters and drug addicts, Masri manifests the juxtaposition between true rock-bottom criminals in comparison to Layal’s situation, in addition to other Palestinian fighters.
In her now-shambled life, Layal finds out that she is pregnant, and decides to raise her son inside her cell for two years, ignoring the prison director’s advice of aborting the child, as well as her husband’s suggestion. Her relationship with the latter easily breaks off.
Layal’s resilience and strength are very much manifested in this movie and are revealed through her integration within the small community of the prison, finding somewhat-peace with an Israeli prisoner, giving birth to her child Nour under the circumstances, and engaging in a hunger strike regardless of the threats thrown to take away her son.
The movie succeeds in showing the imperialist and inhumane acts created by the Israeli government, and violence perpetuated against Palestinian citizens in general. Masri doesn’t only show the traumatic events happening in occupied Palestine, which are manifested through the characters’ stories, but also shows the circumstances in Beirut at the time of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982. This gives a vaster perspective to the viewers; the violence and injustice spreads.
The movie’s visual aspect is very pleasing and excellently shot. In her post-film discussion, Masri explains how the entire film was shot within the confines of a Jordanian prison. Regardless of the lack of variation of space and place, the cinematographic experience is nevertheless fluctuating and the events leave the viewer highly engaged, with each heart-clenching scene getting more infuriatingly interesting by the minute.
In addition to this, the linguistic aspect in the film is very interesting. The writer uses both languages, Hebrew and Arabic, making the juxtaposition mentioned earlier even stronger and adding more to the nationalism portrayed. The two identities are even more opposed.
The film also diverts from the classical portrayal of hope in war-torn documentary fictions. It successfully shows the true desperations and persistence of incarcerated women in the occupied area through fighting repetitively to be released, and finding solace within the confines of a cell. They found freedom in their captivity.