Farha: A Coming Of Age Film Shedding Light on The Story Of The Nakba

From the moment it became part of Netflix, “Farha” has generated quite a stir among world viewers with many deeming it ‘antisemitic’. The Jordanian film set in 1948 tells the true story of a Palestinian girl named Farha who had a unique and difficult experience when it came to the Nakba, a term that refers to when Palestinians were expelled from their homes in thousands.

Considered Jordanian director Darin Sallam’s debut feature film which became Jordan’s official entry for the 2023 Academy Awards along with its participation in several other festivals, the film has served as an opportunity for Sallam to shed light on this painful time through art and storytelling. The film brings to life the true story of her mother’s friend who witnessed moments from the Nakba unfold before her eyes while locked in a pantry.

A Closer Look At Farha’s Perspective

From the start of the film, Farha had a chance to escape the Nakba and head to the city but she refused to leave her dad behind and from there, events took a painful turn. At that time, the 14-year-old girl had hopes and aspirations of leaving her village and pursuing an education in the city but this all came crashing down when her village and many others were attacked by soldiers, displacing families and loved ones from their homes. To protect Farha, her dad hid and locked her inside a small pantry, a place where time took a standstill.

The pace of those scenes within the pantry were painfully slow depicting the excruciating wait Farha had to endure. With the camera locked on her face throughout that time, the audience got to live the experience with her, every minute, sometimes in total darkness.

What made the experience specially horrific was the fact that the events of the film were not just rooted in the pantry, the world outside also managed to seep in, wisps of a smoke bomb travelled into the storage room causing Farha to cough. Throughout her time in the pantry, Farha had several vantage points to the outside world, whether under the door or through a hole on the wall. From there she witnessed unforgettable moments of tragedy including a family of five intercepted by the Israeli force and placed side by side in a row to be killed on the spot.

What People Are Saying

Since its release, the film has been receiving an onslaught of backlash particularly from Israeli officials. The biggest response came from Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman who said, “It’s crazy that Netflix decided to stream a movie whose whole purpose is to create a false pretence and incite against Israeli soldiers”.

Beyond that, there were many attempts to lower the film’s ranking through an onslaught of negative reviews across different rating platforms. According to Middle East Eye, in a mere few hours, ratings plummeted from 7.2 to 5.8.

All across social media platforms, users also took to communicate their frustration with the film’s release. Yoseph Haddad, a former IDF soldier tweeted a message directed at Netflix saying, “Netflix, stop this disgrace and don’t give a platform to a film that defames Israel and presents the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) as baby killers!” This was in reference to one of the most difficult scenes in the film, when an IDF soldier was about to kill a new born but instead left the infant to die.

A Jewish author and photographer Lauren Ben-David also expressed dismay by tweeting her cancellation of her Netflix membership:

On the other side of the coin, the film did receive wide appraisal for finally showing what happened and is continuing to happen to Palestinians despite the shunning of the international community, one Palestinian journalist called Omar Baddar tweeted his appreciation of the fact that the film showcased true depictions of what occurred back in 1948, “Israeli officials didn’t want depictions of the true story of what happened to Palestinians in 1948 to be shown on Netflix. But Netflix stood firm and released ‘Farha’ today. Watch it!”

NGOs fighting to change the narrative when it comes to Palestine have also took to Twitter to celebrate the film and what it is trying to accomplish including IMEU, an organization all about spreading facts, data and research about Palestine and Palestinians :

When it comes to the creator of Farha itself, she also had her own perspective and reasoning as to why the film was made. Sallam knew that many would not take the film lightly and yet, she had a simple response to the reason behind going forward with filming Farha:

“I’m not afraid to tell the truth. We need to do this because films live and we die… This is why I decided to make this film. Not because I’m political, but because I’m loyal to the story that I heard.”

Darin Sallam Via Arab News

So far, the story of Farha and many others like her who suffered tragic events during the Nakba and afterwards would usually be silenced yet now, with the growth of the Palestinian film industry which is growing popularity, many of these stories are coming up to the surface, capturing the memory of the Nakba and the occupied Palestine of today.

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