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Mahdi Fleifel [Videonale.15, 17]

* in Dubai ARE lives and works in London GBR
Studied at British National Film and Television School, Beaconfield GBR


Exhibitions [selection]:


2014 Berlin International Film Festival, GER
         Miami International Film Festival, USA Cinema du Reel, Paris, FRA
         Busan International Short Film Festival, KOR
         Documentamadrid, ESP Houston Palestine Film Festival, USA
         Ismailia Int Film Festival for Docs and Shorts, EGY
         Sydney Film Festival, AUS
         Mediterranean Film Festival Split, CRO
         Sheffield Doc/Fest, GBR


Mahdi Fleifel [Videonale.15] x

Xenos, 2013, 12 min., colour, sound [Videonale.15]

Crisis meets crisis, refugees meet recession. On a modern odyssey Palestinians are stranded in Athens. Their wandering has led them from a refugee camp in Lebanon, through Syria and Turkey to the Greece of the Euro crisis – a haven that turns out not to be substantially calmer than the sea. Mahdi Fleifel shows in XENOS how war and crisis, conflicts in the Middle East and economic recession converge. Fleifel gives these topics, which have long become a standard daily news item, a human face: flight from war and violence ends in a place, where not even stealing is profitable, whose residents have to struggle for day-to-day survival and where drugs are the only way to cope with everyday life. For twelve minutes the film documents hopelessness, damaged bodies and souls. Against becoming used to the background noise of ever new crises and anticlimaxes, which dominate news coverage, XENOS sets the interference on recorded telephone conversations and the image noise of dim night shots – evidence of the refugee’s everyday life. The collapse of personal dreams, the family’s disappointed wishes, drug addiction and prostitution – the protagonists are in a struggle with all this. In XENOS all of this is gathered together in a document about the clash of crises.

Jan Harms


Madhi Fleifel x

I Signed The Petition, 2018, 10:30 min., colour, sound [VIDEONALE.17]

Torn between doubt and conviction, an artist of Palestinian origin seeks advice from a confidant after signing a petition to boycott a concert by the British band Radiohead in Israel. The phone call between the friends deals with devastating powerlessness and the ironic absurdity of constantly being part of a conflict that has been going on for decades.
In parallel to the dialogue, the viewer sees a scenery that at first documents a protected, calm atmosphere: warm light falls through the window granting a view to a familiar residential settlement. A bright, well-sorted home with desks and work material can be seen. This calm, tidy environment strongly contrasts pictures of abandoned, gloomy alleyways, private film material of demonstrations, and nebulous, faded shots of refugee camps and settlements. What is shown is at all times in a field of tension between protection and vulnerability: the old and new homelands mingle, past and present are juxtaposed and become blurred. Views out the window allow us to comprehend the thoughts of a person who is physically in a secure environment but emotionally in the middle of a conflict. The spectators take on the position of silent voyeurs, and almost in passing feel able to empathize with the protagonist’s facets of inner discord. The observing gaze scans childhood photos, books, and research material. Then a female figure appears, like a shadow of her surroundings. It is almost as if she were descending into darkness to be fully absorbed by it in the end.
Mahdi Fleifel’s art deals with the broken reality of thousands of people who are indirectly and directly involved in confrontations in a region that for decades has refused to calm down. I Signed The Petition subtly confronts us with the question of whether a single voice should keep silent or speak up in the face of ongoing injustices. The film is both the sketch of a politically conflictual situation and the admission of strong personal convictions and deeply rooted fears. Not least, it demonstrates a firm attitude and the attendant hope for changes. (Joana da Silva)

Mahdi Fleifel