This film is a courageous work of autobiographical fiction, a false chronology in two parts that begins in Nazareth, the filmmaker's birthplace and the largest Arab city within the State of Israel. Suleiman presents us with funny, incisive vignettes that emphasize the dislocation felt by the Arab population. He calls the first part of his film, in dreamy Nazareth, a "personal diary." The film's second part is a "political diary;" a playful allegory set in chaotic, modern Jerusalem. In Suleiman's film, the "personal" and "political" intersect at odd angles. The surprise visit a pajama-clad Suleiman receives from Israeli militia can be considered "personal" as well as "political." The same goes for an image of his parents, asleep in their living room as the Israeli National anthem blares on television. CHRONICLE OF A DISAPPEARANCE takes its place in a cultural phenomenon: artists who are simultaneously Israeli citizens and Palestinian nationals are searching for the meaning of Palestinian independence within the State of Israel. The deadpan humor that pervades the film is not as light as it seems. It masks a subversive vision, questioning the very idea of "Arab Israeli" identity.
Filmmaker Elia Suleiman was born in Nazareth in 1960, well after the establishment in 1948 of the state of Israel in historic Palestine. After twelve years of self-imposed exile in New York, he returns to the land of his birth to find his roots. But his journey becomes a search for roots by a man whose culture has been uprooted.
In a remarkable journey in search of what it means to be Palestinian, the images in Chronicle of a Disappearance are strung together like memories in an attempt to weave a whole out of elements that have been blasted apart.
FESTIVALS & AWARDS
1996 Venice Film Festival, Luigi De Laurentiis Prize Winner, Best First Feature
1996 London Film Festival
1997 Sundance Film Festival
1997 New Directors New Films
1997 San Francisco Film Festival
1997 Seattle Film Festival
1997 San Francisco Arab Film Festival
1997 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival