What Does It Mean to Cook Dinner Under Occupation? Rewatching The Time That Remains
Randa Jarrar in Conversation with Mychal Denzel Smith on the Open Form Podcast
Welcome to Open Form, a weekly film podcast hosted by award-winning writer Mychal Denzel Smith. Each week, a different author chooses a movie: a movie they love, a movie they hate, a movie they hate to love. Something nostalgic from their childhood. A brand-new obsession. Something they’ve been dying to talk about for ages and their friends are constantly annoyed by them bringing it up.
In this episode, Mychal talks to Randa Jarrar (Love Is an Ex-Country) about the 2009 film The Time That Remains, directed by Elia Suleiman and starring Menashe Noy, Elia Suleiman, and Baher Agbariya.
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From the episode:
Mychal: Here is a Palestinian filmmaker-storyteller examining the ways the occupation has affected generation after generation, and not just depicting the atrocity but really, truly telling stories about what it means to forge a life under such conditions, and doing it with all of the heart and humor that you’re speaking of. What does it mean to go to school under occupation? What does it mean to cook dinner under occupation? What does it mean to try to go to the club under occupation? Those are textures and nuances that it feels, even for the most politically conscious among us, easy to forget that people are still attempting to live lives.
Randa: Yeah, and they’re attempting to live lives with a resistance and joy and righteous anger and generosity towards each other. Like the scenes with the neighbor, that answers the question of what does it mean to get drunk under occupation. This neighbor couldn’t even enjoy himself; he was constantly trying to come up with solutions to being colonized. And every single time the solution for him is to set himself on fire, or at least to try to, and have his neighbors save him.
There’s so much poetry in the film, too. I’ve often thought about what it would be like to watch this as an occupier. How do you step away from watching a film like this and not feel like “this is so wrong”? And as someone who is now a neighbor, how can you divest? How can you resist this as an occupier or as someone who is forced at the age of 18 to register to be in the Israeli offensive forces?
Randa Jarrar is the author of the novel A Map of Home and the collection of stories Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Salon, Bitch, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a Creative Capital Award and an American Book Award, as well as awards and fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, Hedgebrook, PEN, and others. A professor of creative writing and a performer, Jarrar lives in Los Angeles.