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"With a strong sense of irony and a deadpan visual style" (Janet Maslin, The New York Times), Chronicle of a Disappearance unfolds in a series of seemingly unconnected cinematic tableaux, each of them focused on incidents or characters which seldom reappear later in the film. Among the many unrelated scenes, there is a Palestinian actress struggling to find an apartment in West Jerusalem, the owner of the Holy Land souvenir shop preparing merchandise for incoming Japanese tourists, a group of old women gossiping about their relatives, and an Israeli police van which screeches to a halt so several heavily armed soldiers can get off the car and urinate.
Defined by writer/producer/director Elia Suleiman (Divine Intervention) as a "search for what it means to be Palestinian," this "beautiful and understated" film is "a triumph of succinct images and adroit structure" (Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times). Split in two parts, "Nazareth Personal Diary" and "Jerusalem Political Diary," Chronicle features outstanding performances by a cast of non-professional actors and combines a sarcastic sense of humor with moments of silent contemplation; it speaks of the absurdity and complexity of a people without a land.
But if the project of a Palestinian state remains stalled by a series of historical and political complications, Palestinian cinema has been, conversely, celebrated for several major contributions to world cinema. And while Chronicle of a Disappearance was shot in various locations across the Middle-East, it succeeds in evoking several fundamental issues concerning the post-1948 Palestinian struggle for a recognizable national identity.
"Part documentary, part psychodrama, part absurd comedy...from a Palestinian perspective." – J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
"A certifiable masterpiece." - Gavin Smith, Film Comment
"...a demanding, beautiful and understated experimental film of unexpected impact." - Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times