Controversial film 'Amira' pulled from Jordan cinemas after Palestinian outrage
The Academy Award-nominated film "Amira" has been pulled from cinemas in Jordan, announced the film director Mohamad Diab on Thursday, following outrage over its depiction of Palestinian prisoners.
Diab published a statement on his Facebook account in the name of the film crew saying that they had decided to stop the film from being screened in Jordan.
"We understand the anger of some who thought that the film is offensive to Palestinian prisoners, and we wish that the film was watched before being judged," he wrote.
"Amira" had caused controversy among Palestinians due to a fictional character in the film who is portrayed as being the daughter of a Palestinian prisoner held in an Israeli jail and born through smuggled sperm.
She later discovers that her supposed Palestinian father is infertile and that an Israeli jailer had switched the sperm with his own.
Palestinian activists and journalists have launched an online campaign using the hashtag #Pull_Out_Amira (#اسحبوا_فيلم_أميرة) to express their rejection of the Jordanian Feature-Film ‘Amira’ which insults the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails. #FreeThemAll pic.twitter.com/IvVdn1pEJB— Nesma Ja (@NesmaJa97) December 8, 2021
Thousands of people reacted on social media with hashtags demanding the film be removed from Jordan cinemas, considering it offensive to Palestinian prisoners and their families, especially those who had children while in jail via smuggled sperm.
Diab said in the statement: "The storyline is fictional and we made it clear at the end of the film... the real intention of the film was to explore the real consistency of a person's identity and what would their choices be if they found that they were born of somebody else. The daughter in the film eventually chooses to be Palestinian despite her biological origin."
Diab added that "Palestinian prisoners and their families' feelings are a priority for us".
Jordanian actress Juliet Awwad has strongly criticized the Jordanian feature-film, Amira, which is nominated for the Oscars, for insulting Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.#Pull_Out_Amira pic.twitter.com/sdN7wBdSv9— Palestine Electronic Forces (@PEFMISSIONS) December 8, 2021
Sanaa Salameh, the wife of Palestinian prisoner and writer Walid Daqah, had their daughter through smuggled sperm and told The New Arab that the film sheds doubts about the credibility of Palestinian prisoners and their wives.
"There are more than 100 Palestinian children born of smuggled sperms and none of them ever faced doubts on their real genealogy, because there are strict conditions to smuggle sperm from prison, and because families have to prove their fathers' identities by DNA tests to be allowed visits," she said.
"The argument that the storyline is fictional is invalid because 5,000 Palestinian prisoners and their families are not fictional. We are real and they could have consulted us before making the film in that way."
Salameh said presenting an Israeli jailer as the real father was "particularly insulting".
"Smile of my daughter, Milad, defeats all those who produced Amira film" Sana Abu Daqqa, wife of prisoner Waleed Abu Daqqa told local sources.— HudaFadil 🇵🇸#Gaza (@HudaFadil9) December 8, 2021
Milad was born of her father's smuggled sperm, who has been imprisoned in Israeli jails since 1986.#Pull_Out_Amira #اسحبوا_فيلم_أميرة pic.twitter.com/CoVLCYDeud
Palestinian writer and critic Ziad Khaddash told The New Arab that the film will be considered in bad taste by most Palestinians.
Khaddash said: "It is very hard for Palestinians to even imagine such a scenario. It hurts their personal and national dignity, especially that the question of prisoners is a sacred one in Palestinian society, since there nearly not a single family who didn't go through the experience of having one of its members in Israeli prison."
"The philosophical question that the film claims to explore about identity was already explored in Palestinian literature for years, especially by Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, but in an intelligent way stemming from the Palestinian consciousness, written for Palestinians."