My Love Awaits Me By the Sea (Habibi bistanan and al bahar)

A moving and deeply personal essay about the filmmaker’s first trip to her homeland, Palestine, inspired by the life and work of the deceased artist and writer Hasan Hourani. Darwazah belongs to a new generation of Arab female filmmakers whose work is currently screened in EYE.

This poetic, melancholic and occasionally humoristic documentary gives a voice to Palestinian refugees who have to live under Israeli occupation. The director herself, born and bred in Amman, Jordan, undertook her first trip to Palestine taking with her Hasan Hourani's book Hasan Is Everywhere as a guide. The experience only served to increase her attachment to the place she has actually never been allowed to live in.

Artist and writer Hourani was 29 when he drowned trying to save the life of his nephew in the prohibited waters near the city of Jaffa, now a city in Israel. Director Darwazah speaks about Hourani as if he was her lover, although gradually it transpires that she has never met him. Darwazah uses pencil, charcoal and watercolour to illustrate her imaginary and impossible love story.

As the documentary’s narrator, she often ponders over her longing for the sea. She also talks to Palestinians, like the eloquent young man from a refugee camp in Damascus who is frustrated by the sense of being controlled by the twin forces of religion and politics. Three friends in Jerusalem tell her what makes the city so special to them. Two people she interviews in Nazareth are simply dreaming of a life a little more ordinary.

These dreams form a major element of the film. Whereas most people generally dream of extraordinary things, Darwazah mainly meets Palestinians yearning for an ordinary life, a life they are denied because they are stateless.