FilmTalk 2011/2012: Sleeping with the Enemy

You can download the leaflet here.

A lecture series organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London and The Wiener Library.

In this season we examine ‘forbidden relationships’ across the Middle East divide, especially between Jews and Arabs. Spanning the period from the 1940s to the present day, the films explore the changing representations of Arab masculinities and Jewish women, including where these representations stand in present day Britain. In these films love, desire and politics blur the borderline between personal loyalty and the perceived demands of patriotism and national identity.
FilmTalk stresses film as much as talk. The lectures are 20-25 minutes long and are followed or intercut with excerpts from the films under review.

Lectures are held at the Wiener Library, 29 Russell Square, London WC1B5DP Underground: Russell Square, Bus: 188, 168, X68, 7, 59, 68

Lectures will begin promptly at 6.30pm. Latecomers may not be admitted. Admission is free but places must be reserved in advance with the Library. email: info@wienerlibrary.co.uk tel: 020 7636 7247

Programme

8 December 2011

Prof Sue Harper (University of Portsmouth)

The Lion’s Mane: Sexual and Racial Politics in Samson and Delilah (1949)

Samson and Delilah presents us with fascinating contradictions. It is a film made at the height of the Hollywood studio system, which celebrates the heroic underdog and racial minorities: it both reviles and celebrates the
female body: and it combines a lush visual texture with a stern moralism.
Besides trying to reconcile these contradictions, Sue Harper will analyse the symbolism of hair (not just Samson’s) and will examine the function of Edith Head’s costume designs, particularly the peacock cloak. She will assess the input of the Zionist thinker Vladimir Jabotinsky to the film’s script, and will compare the film’s treatment of Jewish/Arab relation with others in the same period.

Sue Harper is Emeritus Professor of Film History at the University of Portsmouth. She has written numerous books and articles on British cinema, and has made many radio and television appearances.

1 March 2012

Prof Yosefa Loshitzky (University of East London)

Forbidden Love in the Holy Land: Daniel Wachsmann’s Hamsin (1982)

In her film talk Yosefa Loshitzky will discuss the fears of “forbidden love” between Israeli Jews and Palestinians as they are expressed and transgressed in the iconic film Hamsin. Perhaps more than any other Israeli film, Hamsin touches upon the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Not only does it deal with a politically taboo topic (the ongoing confiscation of Arab land by Israel inside the green line, Israel’s border prior to the 1967 war) but it also deals with the ultimate taboo of love between Jews and Arabs. Hamsin demonstrates that there are some borders that cannot be crossed
even by ostensibly liberal Israelis.

Yosefa Loshitzky is the author of The Radical Faces of Godard and Bertolucci, Identity Politics on the Israeli Screen, Screening Strangers: Migration and Diaspora in Contemporary European Cinema, and the editor of Spielberg’s Holocaust: Critical Perspectives on Schindler’s List.

10 May 2012

Prof Carrie Tarr (Kingston University, London)

Secularism, difference and the family in Roschdy Zem’s Mauvaise foi/Bad Faith (2006)

France has the largest population in Europe of both Jews and Arabs and actor Roschdy Zem’s first film as director tackles the topic of Jewish- Arab relationships against the background of Jewish-Arab hostilities in the Middle East and their repercussions in contemporary France. Mauvaise foi is a comedy that revolves around the consequences of the secular Jewish heroine’s discovery that she is pregnant, and the increasingly problematic decision she and her equally secular Arab-Muslim boyfriend take to keep the baby and tell their not-so-secular families.

Carrie Tarr is Emerita Professor of Film at Kingston University, UK. Her books include Cinema and the Second Sex: Women’s Filmmaking in France in the 1980s and 1990s (2001, with B. Rollet) and Reframing Difference: Beur and banlieue filmmaking in France (2005). She is currently working on the representation of Jews and Arabs in French and Maghrebi cinema(s).

31 May 2012

Dr Nir Cohen (SOAS, London)

Love and Surveillance: Politicised Romance in Peter Kosminsky’s The Promise (UK, 2011)

While attempts at forming romantic relationships are abundant in Peter
Kosminsky’s epic TV serial The Promise (2011), expressions of true love and affection seem to be missing. Instead, romance is yet another tool in a system whose role is to monitor, control, and conquer; lovers are often enemies; and relationships are motivated by political ambitions and emotions. This talk explores Kosminsky’s vision of Israel/Palestine both in the 1940s and today – one in which the concept of love is often marred by violence and undermined by a national cause.

Nir Cohen holds a PhD in Film Studies from University College London. He
currently teaches at SOAS, London. His research focuses on Israeli cinema and he is the author of Soldiers, Rebels, and Drifters: Gay Representation in
Israeli Cinema
(2012).