Matthew Abraham
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Selim Bakri’s quest for a Palestinian identity
Hanna K. (1983) and the Palestinian ‘permission to narrate’
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Costa-Gavras’s Hanna K. explores the political predicament of Selim Bakri, a Palestinian accused of being a ‘terrorist infiltrator’ by the Israeli government. Selim demonstrates the burdens of what Edward Said called the Palestinian ‘permission to narrate’ – the difficulties of humanizing the Palestinian experience for Western audiences often enthralled by Israeli heroism in the wake of the Holocaust. From the opening scene of the film, Costa-Gavras focuses upon the existential condition under which Palestinians live within a Jewish state. Costa-Gavras deploys editing and dialogue techniques to emphasize the difficulties attending the Palestinian’s quest to gain the ‘permission to narrate’. Costa-Gavras captures the predicament of the Palestinian seeking to stop asking for the permission to narrate.

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