Palestinian actress Juna Suleiman 'saddened' by film award due to Israeli 'ethnic cleansing'
A Palestinian actress of the 1948 territories who won best leading actress at an Israeli film awards said it was difficult to enjoy the experience coming under the shadow of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
Juna Suleiman stars in Let It Be Morning, a film directed by Israeli director Eran Kolirin, which won an Ophir Award for best film and has become Israel’s next contender to compete for a place in the Oscars’ Best International Feature Film category.
At the awards, Kolirin read a statement from Suleiman saying she could not attend when Palestinian identity is facing erasure.
"Under normal circumstances, I would've felt happiness and gratitude for the award, but unfortunately, that’s impossible when there are active efforts to erase Palestinian identity and the collective pain that I drag along with me and that exist in every role I play," her statement said.
"Separating my role and my identity is a cynical and violent step built on ongoing colonialist traditions of erasing historic identities and ethnic cleansing that leave me no room for happiness but rather anger and frustration.
"This anger and frustration are the basis of the same experience that 'Let It Be Morning' brings to the screen," she added.
She thanked Kolirin for his "sensitivity and understanding" which she said made her first acting experience so special.
The movie tells the story of Sami, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who is travelling home with his wife and son, after leaving a family wedding in his childhood village.
He is stopped by Israeli soldiers and sent back to his village, which then comes under an unexplained lockdown that prompts him to reassess his Palestinian identity.
It won seven awards at Tuesday's ceremony, including best director and screenplay for Kolirin, and best actor and actress for Palestinian co-stars Alex Bakri and Juna Suleiman.
The Ophir awards are said to be the Israeli equivalent to Oscars.