BFI LFF 2019: It Must Be Heaven (2019)

It Must Be Heaven continues Elia Suleiman’s deadpan global quest for recognition of Palestinian identity and homeland.

Hell on Earth

by Alexa Dalby

It Must Be Heaven

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

“The latest satire-fable from Elia Suleiman is as droll as ever, but while there’s a kernel of seriousness here it too often lapses into elusive mannerism… The premise for this film that he is playing himself: travelling abroad from Nazareth, coming first to Paris and then to New York, trying to speak to producers about getting his latest film made… his comedy leads to something other than a punchline, it points you in the direction of a political situation ” – Guardian

“Filmmaker and actor Elia Suleiman uses his own face and body to express the soul of Palestine in his films… Here the search for identity and a homeland, a constant in his films, takes the form of a man looking for a quiet place to be himself and make movies.” – Hollywood Reporter

It Must Be Heaven follows Suleiman’s travels, nominally in search of funding for his film, helped ineffectually by Gael Garcia Bernal (Ema), from his home in Palestine to Paris and New York. In each place it closely observes human nature and that nation’s particular quirks: Palestine’s cheek-by-jowl neighbours, the fate of a lemon tree and a blindfold girl in the back seat of an army car, France’s obsession with three-course meals and America’s with toting guns. All locations ignore their own inequalities and are oblivious to the fate of Palestine.

It Must Be Heaven premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and screens at the BFI London Film Festival on 9 and 10 October 2019.

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