Nazareth ~ Palestinian Areas
Film-maker Elia Suleiman was honoured for the creative structure, the innovative vocabulary and superb quality of his films along with his use of humour in exploring universal human issues and his commitment to peace and justice in Palestine. Born into a Palestinian family in Israel, a situation that strongly influences his work, Elia Suleiman is one of the most important filmmakers in the Middle East. A writer, director and actor caught in an extreme conflict, he deals with heavy issues. His work is highly political and contains precise, sharp commentary, yet it avoids anger and bitterness by taking an innovative, low-key approach. Suleiman wraps his subject in a lively narrative graced with humour, visual surprises, poetic moments, silences and sound effects. In his outstanding tragi-comedy, Divine Intervention (2002), Suleiman gives an iconic performance as the main protagonist in a series of interconnected sketches that combine delightfully bizarre humour with piercing insight into the realities of occupied Palestine. The film won both the Cannes Jury Prize and the International Critics Prize in 2002, and the international success and popularity of his films have brought Palestinian issues to a global audience. He teaches film and media studies at Birzeit University, and is a model and reference for young Palestinian filmmakers.