#IsraelPalestineSeries: Junction 48 | No.2

Film: Junction 48

Released: 2016
Director: Udi Aloni
Starring: Tamer Nafar as Kareem, Samar Qupty as Manar

This is my second instalment in the #IsraelPalestineSeries series i've started on Israel and Palestine in books and on screen. Much like my first post on the novel Three Daughters, this film is also from a Palestinian perspective.

When I was living in Jerusalem in 2016 I heard a lot about this film. It had just come out and was being described as the 'Palestinian 8 Mile.' I used to be a really big fan of rap, and I do still listen to it so this was enough to make me want to see it. However the film is in Arabic (with some Hebrew) and in the cinemas it wasn't being shown with English subtitles, so I didn't see it at the time of its initial release. However, when flying out of Ben-Gurion airport earlier this year I found the DVD with English subtitles on sale and snapped it up.

This is based on the life of Tamer Nafar, a Palestinian rapper from the popular rap group DAM, born in the Israeli city of Lod. His character Kareem is starting to gain more recognition and popularity for his music, and he regularly performs with his girfriend Manar, a singer. The first half of the movie focuses on Kareem's career, the dynamics within his family, and his status as a Palestinian rapper in Israel. We see the tensions in performing in Israeli clubs and sharing a stage with people who rap so proudly about their Israeli identity when so much of the focus of his music is the struggle of Palestinians and their Palestinian identity.

There is a shift in the second half of the movie focusing on the opposition Manar faces from her male cousins who do not want her performing as they believe she is bringing shame on the family. The struggles within the Palestinian-Muslim community for a young girl with overprotective/traditional family made for another interesting dynamic to be explored.

The conflict plays a large part in the story, as it shapes the music Kareem creates. This film presents a Palestinian narrative, and provides an insight into how everyday life for many Palestinians in Israel feels from their perspective. One nod to the conflict I enjoyed was the ironic subplot in which an old Palestinian man's home is being demolished to build a museum of peace/tolerance (I do not remember exactly what the plan was to build) and Kareem and his family and friends try to save his home.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this movie, although I wasn't 100% crazy about the music. Maybe that's a result of directly translating lyrics, i'm sure if you translated the most popular English rap into Arabic it probably doesn't sound all that great. My favourite part of the storyline was the decision Manar has to make about performing even though her cousins do not want her to.

There was one quote from this film that I really loved: "A weapon without culture, it can only destroy us."