Director’s notes

In memory of Juliano Mer Khamis
May 29, 1958 – April 4, 2011

The violence of the oppressed is often justified, but not always necessary.

We worked in the theatre night and day to create our cultural bomb, but we weren’t sufficiently careful, and it went off in our laps and took Juliano’s life at the height of its bloom.

After the assassination, we were all in shock, and for a moment, we thought we were ready to give up on the dream of creating a space where Palestinians and Jews, women and men, could together pursue freedom, equality and art.

Against all odds, we created the theatre piece While Waiting, an Arabic interpretation of Waiting for Godot. For us, the playwas an attempt to find hope within the mourning, within the repetition of oppression.

Before the murder, we started to work with Juliano on Antigone in Jenin, a film in which we hoped to portray the complexity of the quest for high art, women’s rights, and Palestinian freedom from the Israeli occupation. Art/Violence is a humble attempt to touch this dream. Though many documentary films use art to illustrate personal life, Art/Violence uses our personal lives as backdrops for the militant art that we create.

Udi Aloni

When I moved to Jenin to join Juliano a year before his assassination, I didn’t know, as an Israeli Jew, that this move would change my life forever. In The Freedom Theatre, I met, among others, Mariam Abu-Khaled and Batoul Taleb, two of Juliano’s most talented students. Over the course of the year, right in front of my eyes, they became powerful artists and actresses as they performed Alice in Wonderland under Juliano’s direction. Jul, you taught me the practice of the art of binationalism, step by measured step. Working with your students –who became my friends and colleagues– is the most precious present you could give me.

Mariam Abu Khaled

“I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

-Alice in Wonderland

For three years, Jul taught me theatre and acting. But he actually taught me about freedom, struggle, and art. In other words, he taught me how to dream, and in this film, I try to realize these dreams.

Batoul Taleb

GOGO: “Did they take our rights?”

DIDI: (laughing) “No, we gave them up.”

-Waiting for Godot

Even if we are only actresses in a theatre that is not a theatre, in a country that is not a country, in a home that is not a home, the fact that we, as Palestinian women, performed While Waiting means that we have truly gained our rights, the rights that were taken away from us, the rights that we had given up.