Israeli officials are currently protesting the release of Darin Sallam’s Farha, a Netflix film depicting Zionist forces murdering a Palestinian family during the 1948 conflict. The protestors condemned the film, based on true events, for “creating a false narrative,” as per The Guardian.
Farha revolves around the narrative of a 14-year-old girl, who is locked in a storage room by her father during the events of the Nakba, the Arabic term for the ethnic cleansing and displacement of about 700,000 Palestinians. When nascent Israeli soldiers come to the village, Farha witnesses the killing of an entire family, including two small children and a baby, through a crack in the pantry door.
The debut film by the Jordanian filmmaker, Darin J Sallam, has been shown at several film festivals around the world since its release last year and is Jordan’s Oscars entry for 2023. It began streaming to a global audience on Netflix on Thursday, despite several protests.
“It’s crazy that Netflix decided to stream a movie whose whole purpose is to create a false pretense and incite against Israeli soldiers,” said Israel’s outgoing finance minister, Avigdor Lieberman, in a statement. Lieberman also said he would look at withdrawing state funding from the Al Saraya theatre in the Arab-majority town of Jaffa, which screened the film. Hili Tropper, Israel’s culture minister, said Farha depicted “lies and libels”, and showing it in an Israeli theatre “is a disgrace”.
But Palestinians and their supporters have doubled down in support of the film, stating that there is nothing in the movie that did not happen in reality. Sallam is backed by dozens of supporters, who commended the movie for its portrayal of the Palestinian experience during the events of 1948. Zionist militias relied on the dual tactic of attacking Palestinian villages while hoping news of such atrocities would encourage others to flee.
In previous interviews, Sallam said that she made Farha because while many narrative films tell Palestinian stories, very few focus on the root cause of the conflict and occupation.
Farha, she says, is the story of a friend of Sallam’s mother, who met each other as young women in Syria. “The story travelled over the years to reach me. It stayed with me. When I was a child, I had this fear of closed, dark places and I kept thinking of this girl and what happened to her,” the director told Arab News. “This is why I decided to make this film. Not because I’m political, but because I’m loyal to the story I heard,” she added.
For Sallam, sharing the story with the world felt like a personal mission. “I want them [the audience] to live the journey of this young girl. I want them to see that it [Palestine] was a land with people and that they were living their lives, experiencing good and bad moments, until it was all interrupted,” she said.
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