Hiam Abbass had warned, through his press officer. She did not want to mention, during the preview broadcast of her daughter Lina Soualem’s documentary film, Bye Bye Tiberias, in the middle of touring international festivals, the situation in Palestine. “It’s very difficult to present this film in the current context. No need to say more,” the Palestinian actress almost apologizes, in a soft voice and apologetic smile, on Wednesday, November 22. The heroine of the American series Succession has just arrived discreetly in the lobby of the Alhambra, a welcoming cinema in the northern districts of Marseille, where the Films Femmes Méditerranée festival is programming the work.
Dark jacket, hair down, Hiam Abbass blends into the mass of the public, embraces friends and relatives, goes out to admire the beautiful Art Deco facade of this human-sized cinema. Two hours later, to the cheers of a packed room, the actress, alongside her daughter, reluctantly took the microphone: “We are not only in mourning. We are crushed morally, physically, culturally. » Before admitting, with a tight throat: “I am experiencing war trauma. »
By its subject, Bye Bye Tiberias , whose cinema release is scheduled for April 24, 2024, cannot escape the breath of the explosion of violence which is igniting the Middle East. Lina Soualem’s second documentary tells the story of the four generations of women in her maternal family, that of Hiam Abbass. Palestinian women from the Lake Tiberias region, forced to face the violence of history, driven from their homes by the exodus of 1948, then deprived of the freedom to cross borders by the newly created State of Israel . An intimate dive, carried by personal images, in which the actress and her journey occupy the central place.
Shortlisted for the Oscars
On the poster, a thirty-year-old Hiam Abbass, sitting next to his mother on the balcony of the family apartment, holds young Lina on his knees. Palestine is in the background, as is the noise of the conflict. At that time, the actress was already living in Europe, at the cost of a painful break with a society that she experienced as a straitjacket. “ The suffocation that I felt also came from the political situation. A duality of nationalities which was truly unbearable. We were born Palestinians, we had to become Israelis , ” she summarizes.
On October 7, 2023, Bye Bye Tiberias was screened at the British Film Institute festival in London, just hours after the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. “ I was devastated and very afraid of the reception that would await us. But people didn’t refer to what was happening , ” says Lina Soualem. The 32-year-old director will leave the English capital with the audience prize. “It did us a lot of good,” she admits.
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