Before the film screening for Paradise now, the audience were introduced to the two principal actors Kais Nashef and Ali Suliman along with the director Hany Abu-Assad but the director was oddly absent from the post film discussions. There is probably good reason behind this given the subject matter that the film explores and some of the questions that people in the audience had, but this also meant that the Q&A session itself was limited to the actors experiences and thoughts and not the directors, which many would have liked.
The extract that follows is not an EXACT reflection of the queries and their responses but suitable written interpretations that maintain the spirit of the original discussion to the best possible extent.
[u]Warning: (Some of the questions discuss plot elements and are considered spoilers)[/u]
Audience member: What do you think was more important for Said, the mission itself or avenging his fatherís death?
Kais Nashef: It was actually a combination of the two. I donít think his acts would have been meaningful if they were just about avenging his father. This angle gave him more of a personal reason to do what he did.
Audience: Was ĎParadise nowí totally filmed in Palestine?
Kais: It was almost entirely filmed in Nablus while some parts were shot in Tel Aviv, like the ones you see towards the end of the film. The Israeliís there were very cooperative and this also meant that we didnít have to make any compromises in what we were doing. In fact, one of our co-producers was actually an Israeli, so that made things a little easier.
Audience: What impression about suicide bombers does the film give out especially for people who arenít aware about the truth of this ongoing conflict?
Kais: Well, those who donít know much about the reality of what is happening are probably educated as a result of what they see since they are able to view the human conflict of it all. Those who do know and are aware know the truth.
Audience: Do you personally believe in/endorse the act of suicide bombings?
Kais: I donít think anyone likes the idea of suicide bombings and I am no different. But the point was for the film to go a bit deeper and explore the questions and reasoning or rationale behind why it could happen.
Audience: What preparation did you guys go through for the role?
Ali & Kais: We personally read a lot about the subject and that gave us a pretty good idea of what people who find themselves in situations such as these have to go through. We also live in this region so we are aware of what really does happen. Shooting the film was a risk. Everyday, we would jeopardize ourselves by going out to shoot, but initially we were more scared of being in front of the camera than anything else, since this was our first time (audience laughs).
Audience: I have read that the funding for this movie came from outside or foreign sources and not the Arab world? Why was that?
Kais: We relied on funding from foreign sources because the cinema abroad has really made strides in this sector by leaps and bounds. It was difficult to find people who would understand and appreciate our approach locally or regionally and therefore it made more sense to go further. However, we hope that people can now see the potential that does exist for this medium and open up to other such opportunities in the future.
Audience: It seems you have sugar coated the image of the Israeliís due to your foreign funding. I go there each year to meet my parents and as a Palestinian am humiliated by their behavior. It seems to me that you did not want to take a chance with what you were doing.
Ali & Kais: I wish the director was here to answer that question, but I will try to instead of him. It is important to understand that we have tried to do with this film. It is not a film about the Israeliís or what they have done. This is meant to show the side and perspective of the suicide bombers and in doing that we could not explore the nature of what happens on the other side. I think we were fairly objective in what we set out to do.
- by Faizan Rashid