When I Saw You
When I Saw YouOriginal Title: Lamma Shoftak
Director: Annemarie Jacir
Jordan, Palestine, United Arab Emirates | Arabic
In the summer of 1967, Israeli forces seize control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Thousands of Palestinians pour into Jordan, some separated from their families by the chaos of war. Among them are 11-year-old Tarek (Mahmoud Asfa) and his mother, Ghaydaa (Ruba Blal), who wind up in the Harir refugee camp – but Tarek’s father is missing.
In her acclaimed drama Salt of This Sea
, writer/director Annemarie Jacir used the fugitives-on-the-run genre format to show an American-born woman of Palestinian heritage audaciously claiming her right of return. She does something similar in When I Saw You
, but within the framework of a young boy’s wistful romantic fantasy. When Tarek runs away from Harir, he discovers a site in the Dibeen Forest where Palestinians from the refugee camps receive military training to liberate their lands.
Jacir says, “All my life I had the privilege of Palestine – that is the ability to be there, to live there, unlike 75% of my people, who are forbidden from that. When I was no longer allowed to return and I could only see Palestine from across the Jordan Valley, I understood something, or rather felt something I had never known before. Like so many people who have been displaced, the hardest part is standing somewhere and actually seeing it… a land you recognize and know so intimately, which has now been denied to you.'
– Alissa Simon