The first romantic sequence in Rafiki, by the Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu, opens with a close-up of a pair of sneaker-clad feet on a skateboard, its wheels thumping along the asphalt. The feet belong to the teenage Makena, who arrives at her friend Ziki’s apartment building to take her out around town for the day. After Ziki’s mother answers the door, an elliptical cut thrusts the viewer into a montage sequence in which the two teenage girls sit close together on a tuk-tuk ride around the streets of Nairobi.
Film Quarterly’s webinar series showcasing the best in recent film and media studies publications, continued on April 2nd with a conversation between Page Views editor Bruno Guaraná and Professor Lúcia Nagib (University of Reading) about her groundbreaking new book, Realist Cinema as World Cinema (Amsterdam University Press, 2020), introduced by FQ editor-in-chief B. Ruby Rich.
In her latest book, Realist Cinema as World Cinema: Non-Cinema, Intermedial Passages, Total Cinema, Lúcia Nagib suggests that the integrity with which The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and anonymous, 2012) presents its subjects—as performers, producers, and spectators of their own reenactments—directly affects their reality.
The terrain of history is perhaps nowhere more fraught than in the Israeli/Palestinian context, a highly charged force field of ethno-religious identities, political ideologies, and conflicting territorial claims. Overlaid with collective memories and symbolic meanings, the landscape has borne witness to war and imperial conquest, shifting regimes and borders, perpetual occupation and injustice, and overlapping yet seemingly irreconcilable narratives of past experience. Take 1948: celebrated by Zionists for the establishment of the State of Israel in the wake of the Holocaust, the year is remembered by Palestinian Arabs as the Nakba (“catastrophe”), given the forcible dispossession and expulsion of an estimated 750,000 native inhabitants. And where many Israeli Jews have cast their nation’s founding as a return to political sovereignty after nearly two millennia in the diaspora, Palestinians have sought to assert a counterhistory in a condition of subjugation and exilic dispersal from their land.