Creating people's geographies
An unlikely-sounding film release — an animation about a massacre detailed from one who was on the side of the co-perpetrators — has been getting attention in Cannes. Waltz With Bashir is about the struggle of the filmmaker and former IDF soldier, Ari Folman, to come to terms with the gaps in his memory surrounding the part he played in the first Lebanese war and the 1982 massacre of thousands of unarmed Palestinian civilians in the West Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.
Folman asserts that this is a personal rather than political film, but hopes to convey that “war is useless”.
Waltz With Bashir Trailer 1m45s
The Sabra Shatila Palestinian camp in Beirut exists to this day, and I have more than once visited the memorial there to the victims of one of the darkest chapters in Lebanese history, wherein then Israeli-allied and -facilitated Lebanese Phalange militia went on a drug-crazed killing spree.
One of the best recent memorials on this is Sonja Karkar’s Honouring the victims; Dr Ang Swee Chai’s incredibly moving eyewitness account is also recommended, as is Robert Fisk. All of these are recommended but be forewarned that they are heavy-duty and depict graphic and gruesome details of a massacre.