We will not be silenced: ‘Farha’ makers condemn Israel’s campaign against film on Nakba

Netflix’s film Farha, based on the true events of Nakba (The Palestinian Catastrophe) has rattled Israeli officials. So much so, that there have been several complaints lodged against the honest telling of Israel’s atrocities and forced takeover of Palestine in 1948. Many Israelis have since ‘cancelled’ their Netflix subscription. 

Now, the makers of the film have released a statement on social media, addressing how even though after being ‘attacked aggressively, they will not back down.’

The statement

“In the past 48 hours, our film Farha has been aggressively attacked by Israeli government officials, Israeli media as well as by Israeli individuals on social media and other platforms,” said the filmmakers in a statement on Twitter.

“We, the film’s team, condemn all the accusations to discredit FARHA, the organised campaign against the film on IMDb.com to drastically lower its rating, the attempts to shut down the screening of the film (on Wednesday) in Saraya Yaffa Theater (in Israel) and the threats to cancel Netflix subscriptions should the film start streaming on the platform.”

Israel Campaigned to Cancel Netflix Film “Farha”

The statement further read, “We also condemn the onslaught of hateful messages, harassment, accusations and bullying by Israelis that are targeting the film’s director on social media and on other outlets. We will not condone any harmful threats to any member of Farha’s team.”

Farha is the story of a 14-year-old Palestinian girl who watches from a locked room an entire family, including two children, being massacred by Zionist forces during the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel through the colonisation of Palestine and dispersion of the Palestinian people in what became to be known as the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe.

“The film’s writer/director, Darin J Sallam, had the urge to tell this humane and personal story that she carried with her since her childhood and to share it with the world,” according to the statement by the filmmakers, adding that the film’s producers, Deema Azar and Ayah Jardaneh, “unconditionally support her decision to tell this story and will always back the film and her artistic choices all the way.”

Farha' Review: A Most Brutal Coming-of-Age Story - The New York Times

The statement further read, “The timing of this attack is not a coincidence as it was planned ahead of the film’s screening in Saraya Yaffa Theater in the city of Jaffa on November 30th; of the film’s worldwide release on Netflix on December 1st; and in the midst of Farha’s Oscar effort in representing Jordan. It is meant to prevent the film from being seen globally and with the obvious intent to harm it.”

It continued, “These attempts to silence our voices as Semite/Arabs and as Women filmmakers to dehumanise us and prevent us from telling our stories, our narrative and our truth are against any freedom of speech,” said the filmmakers, adding, “All the campaigning against Farha will not deter us from our goal which is to share the film and the story it tells with audiences worldwide. The film exists, we exist, and we will not be silenced.”

The director and producers of the film said they were “overwhelmed by the amount of support the film is receiving globally and are grateful to everyone who is doing their part to stand up against this attack and ensure the film is spoken about and seen.”

The immense support

While Israel is condemning the film, many users who have watched Farha on Netflix, claim it to be one of the most honest portrayals of Palestine’s tragedy. “My father watched Farha on Netflix. He said ‘every single thing that happened in this movie, I experienced in 1967,'” one user wrote.

Another replied: “My mother said something very similar.”

Others praised the director for highlighting atrocities that they said were still taking place today. “Finished watching Farha on Netflix and made me realise how lucky I am, being able to pause the movie whenever it got too triggering and emotional. Palestinians can’t press pause when they’re watching their friends and families get killed in front of them,” another user wrote.

“Anyone who empathised with Anne Frank’s story needs to watch Farha on Netflix,” said another Twitter user.

Sallam on making Farha 

Netflix's Farha: Palestinians bemused by Israeli anger over Nakba film | Middle East Eye

Sallam, in an interview with Deadline, shared Farha was a story her mother had narrated time and again. “She was locked up by her father to protect her life,” Sallam recalled. 

“She survived [the conflict] and she made it to Syria, where she met a Syrian girl and shared her story with her. This Syrian girl grew up, got married and had a child, and she shared the story with her daughter—and this daughter happened to be me,” added the filmmaker.

“It’s a story that’s stayed with me since I was a child – especially because I was claustrophobic, and I kept thinking of this girl. And as I grew up, the story grew up with me, so whenever anybody asks me, ‘How did you find the story?’ I always tell them that the story kind of found me. And when I became a filmmaker, I felt that I had to share this story with the world.”

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