The Time That Remains: An Interview with Elia Suleiman
Award-winning Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman (Divine Intervention) makes idiosyncratic films about the endless conflict between Arabs and Israelis, stitching together wryly humorous tableaux that speak to the absurdity of life under occupation. Suleiman himself is often a character in these tragicomic dramas, a mute witness quietly observing the agitations of the Middle East at ground level, with lidded eyes and a mournful face that commentators have repeatedly likened to Buster Keaton’s. As a youth infatuated with socialism, Suleiman (now 50) fled a pending arrest warrant in Nazareth (the authorities were under the impression he was a gang member) and moved to London, where he met author John Berger, an important mentor and lifelong friend whoseWays of Seeing literally opened his eyes to the world. Later, in New York City, he befriended the late critic Edward Said (Orientalism) and producer James Schamus, both of whom exerted an equally powerful influence on Suleiman’s intellectual development and future film art.