Film: Hanna K. (1983)

Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 23:00

The buried and forgotten film by Costa-Gavras

Costa-Gavras (Konstantinos Gavras), the career of one of the most renown directors of “political films” took a dive in 1983 after a string of highly successful films: Z (1969), State of Siege  (1972), Missing (1982).  His film, Hanna K., was the first western-made film with a half-sympathetic view of Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation.

It is being screened at Beit Zatoun because it has become “lost” and almost impossible to view.  Not a great film by Costa-Gavras standards, it nonetheless is worth watching as a statement and view of Palestinian reality in 1983 (a yet young 1967-occupation, pre-Intifada, pre-Oslo).  The film is notable for the debut of leading Palestinian actor, Muhammad Bakri..

Edward Said commented about the film: “As a political as well as cinematic intervention, Hanna K. is a statement of a great and I believe, lasting significance.”

From Wikipedia (shortened): Pro-Israeli groups were extremely concerned about Hanna K. and its potential for depicting the Palestinian issue in a sympathetic light. An internal memorandum was circulated by a B’nai B’rith advising members that if the film played in their cities there were certain comments that could be made in the local press. Attached to the memorandum were two sets of prepared criticisms, written by Shimon Samuels and Abba Cohen from the French headquarters of the B’nai B’rith, outlining the arguments supporters of Israel should make against the film.

Hanna K. opened in several American cities and played for a short time to virtually universal negative reviews, (where it was reviewed at all), then was abruptly pulled from circulation by the American distributor. A Chicago distributor commented off-the-record that while it could not be proven that the film was pulled because of political pressure, distributors “understood” that the film was unacceptable to supporters of Israel. The director’s wife commented: “in the United States, a Universal tour that was to have encompassed New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago, and San Francisco was dropped at the last moment and a two-week run in New York substituted. Costa-Gavras gave scores of interviews to journalists and critics and began to notice a common thread. ‘They would come in and say that while they didn’t have political objections, a friend or relative had seen the film and thought it was anti-Israeli. Costa Gavras personally advertised the film in The New York Times at a cost of $50,000 (now $200,000) after Universal refused to. Universal even forbade the director the use of ads that had been prepared for the film.

1983 | Dir. Costa-Gavras |  France, Israel  | 111min. | English

Followed by discussion.
facebook event

Need to know:
– Doors open at 6:50
– $5 donation (suggested minimum)
– Accessible on demand via portable ramp; washrooms not accessible
– Please avoid using strong-scented products due to sensitivities

Tasty refreshments (non-alcoholic) with Zatoun oliveoil+za’atar dipping.

Beit Zatoun
612 Markham St. (Bathurst subway)
Toronto , ON
43° 39' 11.6136" N, 79° 22' 59.4624" W
Ontario CA

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