Elia Suleiman (Arabic: إيليا سليمان, IPA: [ˈʔiːlja sʊleːˈmaːn]; born July 28, 1960) is a Palestinian film director and actor of Rûm Greek Orthodox origin. He is best known for the 2002 film Divine Intervention (Arabic: يد إلهية), a modern tragic comedy on living under occupation in Palestine which won the Jury Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Elia Suleiman's cinematic style is often compared to that of Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton, for its poetic interplay between "burlesque and sobriety". He is married to Lebanese singer and actress Yasmine Hamdan.
Life and career
Between 1982–1993, Suleiman lived in New York City, where he co-directed: Introduction to the End of an Argument (1990) and directed Homage by Assassination, that both won numerous awards.
An experimental video film, co-directed by Jayce Salloum, Introduction to the End of an Argument critiqued the portrayal of Arabs in Western media and its effect on foreign policy by juxtaposing clips from Hollywood films, television broadcasts and cartoons with live scenes (shot by Salloum) from the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
Homage by Assassination is a "diary film" that critiques the 1991 Gulf War via the juxtaposition of multilayered personal anecdotes and identity. The film offers a lucid portrait of what Ella Shohat and Robert Stam have termed "cultural disembodiment," manifested in "multiple failures of communication," that reflect the contradictions of a "diasporic subject.":24
In 1994, Suleiman moved to Jerusalem and began teaching at Birzeit University in the West Bank. He was entrusted with the task of developing a Film and Media Department at the university with funding support from the European Commission. In 2008 Elia Suleiman became a professor at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee. He continues to guest lecture in other universities around the world.
In 2002, Suleiman's second feature film, Divine Intervention, subtitled, A Chronicle of Love and Pain, won the Jury Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and the International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI), also receiving the Best Foreign Film Prize at the European Awards in Rome.
The third film in his trilogy is called The Time That Remains, which competed in the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Suleiman won the Black Pearl prize for best Middle Eastern narrative film at the Middle Eastern Film Festival in Abu Dhabi on October 17, 2009. The film won the Critics' Prize from the Argentinean Film Critics Association at Mar del Plata International Film Festival.
His latest film, It Must Be Heaven, competed in the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and had its North American premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.
Other film work
In his 1998 film, The Arab Dream ("Al Hilm Al-Arabi") Suleiman autobiographically explores issues of identity, expressing that: "I don't have a homeland to say I live in exile... I live in postmortem... daily life, daily death." Suleiman also produced a short film in 1997, entitled War and Peace in Vesoul.
In 2000, Suleiman released the 15-minute short film "Cyber Palestine" which follows a modern-day Mary and Joseph as they attempt to cross from Gaza into Bethlehem.:78–79 Suleiman was part of the nine person jury for the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
- Chronicle of a Disappearance (1996)
- Divine Intervention (2002)
- The Time That Remains (2009)
- It Must Be Heaven (2019)
- "Homage by Assassination" (1993), The Gulf War... What Next?
- "The Arab Dream" (1998)
- "Cyber Palestine" (2000)
- "Awkward" (2007), To Each His Own Cinema
- "Diary of a Beginner" (2012), 7 Days in Havana
- "Elia Suleiman". European Graduate School. Archived from the original on January 22, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- Byrnes, Paul (July 3, 2020). "It Must Be Heaven leaves us wondering in the best possible way". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- "Elia Suleiman". Cannes Film Festival. Archived from the original on August 18, 2019. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- Farsoun, Samih K. (2004). Culture and Customs of the Palestinians. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-313-32051-4.
- Porton, Richard (Summer 2003). "Notes from the Palestinian Diaspora: An Interview with Elia Suleiman". Cinéaste. 28 (3): 24–27. JSTOR 41689603.
- "Yadon Ilaheyya". Cannes Film Festival. Archived from the original on July 6, 2019. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- Holloway, Ron (Fall 2002). "Cannes 2002: Special Report". Kinema. doi:10.15353/kinema.vi.979.
- Jaafar, Ali (October 19, 2009). "'Hipsters' nabs Black Pearl award: Middle East Film Festival hands out $1 million". Variety. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- Elbendary, Amina (May 2–8, 2002). "Passion Shared". Al-Ahram Weekly. Archived from the original on November 26, 2006.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
- Abu-Remaileh, Refqa (2015). "Elia Suleiman: Narrating Negative Space". In Gugler, Josef (ed.). Ten Arab Filmmakers: Political Dissent and Social Critique. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 76–97. ISBN 978-0-253-01644-7.
- Mirza, Iram (May 19, 2006). "Tough task for Cannes jury". CNN-IBN. Archived from the original on July 30, 2013.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
- Tanya Shilina-Conte, "Imaginal Border Crossings and Silence as Negative Mimesis in Elia Suleiman's Divine Intervention." In Border Visions: Identity and Diaspora in Film, edited by Jakub Kazecki, Karen A. Ritzenhoff, Cynthia J. Miller. Scarecrow Press, 2013, p. 3-21, ISBN 9780810890510.
- Gertz, Nurith; Khleifi, George (2008): Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma, and Memory, Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-22007-6. Chapter 7: Between exile and Homeland: The Films of Elia Suleiman (p. 171 -189)
- Provan, Alexander (February 2007). "Requesting Permission to Narrate: Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema". Stop Smiling. Archived from the original on October 22, 2007.