When I Saw You (Lamma Shoftak)

Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees ended up in camps in Jordan in the summer of 1967. In the turmoil of the war, eleven-year-old Tarek loses sight of his father and sets out to find him. Annemarie Jacir belongs to a new generation of Arab female filmmakers whose work is currently screened in EYE.

In the summer of 1967 Israeli forces gain control over the Gaza strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan heights. Thousands of Palestinians are stranded in Jordan, many separated from their families in the chaos of the war. Among them are 11-year-old Tarek and his mother – Tarek’s father is missing. The boy develops a wistful romantic fantasy about his father and sets out to look for him in the forests nearby. There he discovers a place where Palestinians living in refugee camps are undergoing military training to free their country.

Director Annemarie Jacir is regarded as one of the leading figures of the Arab ‘new wave’ of young female directors. She wrote, directed and produced some fifteen films, two of which were selected for Cannes. In addition she works as a teacher, editor and  programme maker.

Jacir based When I Saw You on her own family history.  She lived in Palestine for a long time, until she was no longer allowed to return to her country, and could only see it lying in the distance across the Jordan valley. ‘As is the case for many displaced people, it is the hardest thing to be somewhere and see the country that is so close to you but that is now denied to you.’