Programmed by cheyanne turions, Amy Kazymerchyk and Cinema Project
Part essayistic meditation, part family portrait, The Roof is an eloquent and understated exploration of physical and psychic place in the context of filmmaker Kamal Aljafari’s family history. Returning to his parents’ and grandmother’s homes in Ramleh and Jaffa, now part of Israel, Aljafari uses elegant cinematography, unhurried rhythms, and fragmented narrative to convey how space, time and history have been molded by politics and Israeli institutionalized neglect. The roof of the title is an absent one, on the unfinished house where his family has lived since their resettlement in 1948, and it functions as a place of waiting marked by constant deferral. Curator Jean-Pierre Rehm has called the film “as much a stylistic as a political manifesto” that “reveals not so much the meaning of an absent roof, but the architecture of identity, place, and present pasts.”
Aljafari again draws from the lived experience of his kin in Port of Memory, following the reaction of his family when they receive an order to evacuate their home in Ajami, Jaffa's once-wealthy sea-front neighbourhood. Their lives and those of the other residents are thrown into disarray because they don't have access to the means to effectively fight back. Radically poetic, Port of Memory is a reflection on the absurdity of being at once absent and present, blending the mundane gestures of everyday life and collective memory.
Kamal Aljafari (b. 1972) is originally from Ramleh, Palestine. He graduated from the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne. His film Visit Iraq (2003) he received the Visual Art Prize of the City of Cologne (2004) and an award from the Sundance Documentary Fund (2007). In 2005, he was awarded a fellowship by the German Kunstfonds. The Roof won the Best International On Screen (Video) Award at the Images Festival in Toronto (2008) and also the award for best soundtrack at the FID Marseille documentary festival in France. He was a featured artist at the 2009 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar at Colgate University in New York. Through 2010, he is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. His work has shown at many international film festivals and will be exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, March 2010.