A House in Jerusalem (2023)

Palestinian filmmakers Muyad and Rami Alayan prick and prod Israel’s conscience about dispossession in A House in Jerusalem.

Old Walls

by Alexa Dalby

A House in Jerusalem

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

British/Jewish Rebecca (Miley Locke) and her father Michael (Johnny Harris) move to Jerusalem to get over the death of Rebecca’s mother. Unfortunately, the rambling family house and garden they inherit was forcibly taken in 1948 from the Palestinian family who lived there and bought by Michael’s family.

The film starts as a supernatural thriller about grief. Rebecca, still suffering from the loss of her mother, is the only one who can see the spirit of a little solemn-faced Palestinian girl, Rasha, (Sheherazade Makhoul Farrell) who seems to know her way around the house like a poltergeist. Rebecca finds Rasha’s old doll, which Michael throws away. So far, so supernatural.

Then Rebecca decides to trace Rasha’s family and replace the doll. Her journey reveals the extent of Israeli surveillance and a revelatory bus ride takes her to Bethlehem and the Aida refugee camp. This section is documentary-like in showing repression and endurance in contemporary Israel and the West Bank and comes across as the best part of the film.

Although it is to be celebrated as the first Palestinian co-production, and the intention is admirable, the film itself, though interesting, could be more professional, especially the screenplay.

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