Thursday, April 08, 2010

Avatar in Palestine

From AOL News, February 12:

The conflict in the Middle East took on an especially cinematic quality Friday, when activists representing a small Palestinian village dressed up like the oppressed aliens from the blockbuster movie "Avatar" before staging a demonstration in front of the Israeli West Bank barrier...

In an interview with AOL News, (Mohammed) Khatib explained how the idea to impersonate Na'vi, the movie's subjugated blue-skinned race, sprouted in Europe. There, a Palestinian author and documentary filmmaker named Liana Badr was so moved by the film's similarity to the Palestinian experience in the West Bank that she recommended it to Khatib.

Unfortunately, Khatib and his fellow villagers couldn't just rush off and catch the next matinee – there are no cinemas in their area, he said. Instead, an activist snagged a bootlegged copy for them last Sunday.

"After we watched it, we began to do research on the film and discovered how much attention it was getting around the world," Khatib said of the film... "We learned that Chinese villagers had adopted the name of the mountain range in the film for their own mountains, that hundreds of millions of people around the world saw and sympathized with the Na'vi."

Immediately drawing a parallel between the Israelis who have joined their movement and Avatar's human hero-turned-alien Jake Sully, Khatib and his fellow activists began planning the event. Ibrahim al Kadi, a visual artist from a nearby village, was recruited to handle makeup. Others gathered rubbish to use as makeshift props.

Six days later, five protesters, including three Israelis, marched up to the Israeli Army blockade in full Na'vi gear. As they chanted for an end to the occupation of their lands, a bevy of journalists and various onlookers followed. Israeli forces responded by firing dozens of rounds of tear gas and sound grenades at the movie impersonators.

"At first they were surprised," Khatib said with a laugh. "But then they began shooting and we felt like it was a scene from the movie again, except it was real, and it was taking place in the village."


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