directed by S. Smith Patrick
This film looks at the lives of several adolescents in a Palestinian children’s dance troupe from Dheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank. They use their performance to express the history, struggle, and aspirations of the Palestinian people, specifically the fight to return to their homeland. Through interviews and documentation of the children, the video offers insight into their families’ displacement from their villages in historical Palestine, the physically and emotionally stressful aspects of life in a refugee camp, and the unique experience of participating in the politically motivated dance troupe. The story culminates in a visit by the children for the first time to demolished villages from which their grandparents were expelled in 1948.
Most of the footage was shot in digital video. Super 8 film, slides and photo stills in both black and white and color texturally enhance the digital video imagery. Archival prints donated by the United Nations Photo Archive in Gaza are also used. This intertextural aesthetic is important in defining varying spaces and time.
The film offers a distinct perspective for those who are well versed on the greater political subject and is an educational piece for those who know little on the topic of the Palestinian refugees. No other film exists about these unique adolescents and their creative, conscientious, and peaceful contribution to the international dialogue that shapes their lives.
The name of the dance troupe, ‘Ibdaa,’ translates from Arabic as ‘to create something out of nothing.’ It is a sentiment the troupe founder feels captures the vibrancy and strength of the dance troupe against the oppressive backdrop of its members’ origins and life in Dheisheh refugee camp.
Through their performance, the members of Ibdaa bring the perspective of Palestinians to the attention of the Western communities that they visit. Ibdaa’s use of traditional debke dance perpetrates the Palestinian culture while they creatively and non-violently address a brutal political reality.