DER Documentary

Still Life

launch preview watch a preview

by Diana Allan
color, 25 min, 2007
From the Sensory Ethnography Lab Series

Non-profit and K-12 pricing also available
See pricing information and conditions

Still Life is the first sequence in a triptych of portraits that explores the mediations of memory among three generations of Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon. It considers how a series of photos brought to Lebanon by Said Otruk, an elderly Palestinian fisherman from Acre, mediate both his present experience and recollections of his life in Palestine before 1948.

We see how the "reality" represented in these images has become conflated with them; Said repeatedly misremembers the number of his fishing boat and his age when he left, and when he describes photos of Acre's waterfront as capturing the "golden age", he seems to be gesturing as much at the splendid figure of his own youth as at the halcyon days of pre-48 Palestine.

Rather than being a straightforward expository narrative, or an act of witness of political solidarity, the film is a meditation on the dislocations of memory, the effects of aging and forgetfulness, and the recollection of youthful vitality; the loss of Palestine is lyrically convergent with the felt loss of this vitality. The two portraits that complete the triptych examine spatial and ritual mediations of memory.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Viennale - Vienna International Film Festival, Austria, 2013
Zochrot Festival Screening, Tel Aviv, June 2008
Cornell Cinema, April 2008
Fabryka UTU Human Rights Film Festival, Poland, November 2007
Royal Anthropological Institute, Manchester, June 2007
Boston Palestinian Film Festival, September 2007
Palestinian Film Festival, London, May 2007
Contro-Sguardi: International Anthropological Film Festival, Perugia, Italy, 2010

View more photos on

Other Films in the Sensory Ethnography Lab Series
Demolition (Chaiqian) by JP Sniadecki (28 min, 2007)
Kāle and Kāle by Stephanie Spray (50 min, 2007)
Monsoon-Reflections by Stephanie Spray (22 min, 2007)
On Broadway by Aryo Danusiri (62 min, 2011)
Songhua by JP Sniadecki (28 min, 2007)

Download Our Catalog Catalog cover
Join Our Mailing List

Support DER