The Belgian director told The Electronic Intifada he withdrew from the festival “out of respect for the request from the people from Nabi Saleh.”
The Nabi Saleh Popular Committee thanked Beddegenoodts for joining “many other filmmakers and artists of good conscience who stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination and our call for equal human rights for all and who refuse to lend their names to whitewashing Israel’s crimes against our people.”
Beddegenoodts decided instead to make this film available to everyone: you can watch the whole documentary online at the top of this page.
Israeli embassy sponsorship
Nabi Saleh is the occupied West Bank village where the 2013 documentary was filmed. The villagers had asked Beddegenoodts not to show his film in Bratislava because the festival was sponsored by the Israeli embassy.
The Nabi Saleh Popular Committee said it was “deeply troubled” that organizers “would accept the sponsorship of the Israeli government for its human rights film festival, permitting Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid to appear as a champion of human rights.”
But for the people of Nabi Saleh, Israel’s violence could not strike closer to home: “Surely festival organizers must know, after reviewing the film on our struggle, that these are the same Israeli authorities responsible for the theft of our land and water sources, numerous injuries of our brothers and sisters, killing three,” and “arresting our men, women and children and subjecting our families to horrific night raids.”
Mustafa Tamimi was killed by Israeli forces in Nabi Saleh 2011 and Rushdi Tamimi almost a year later, both fatally injured while taking part in the village’s regular unarmed protests, typically on Fridays. Israeli forces shot dead Saba Abu Ubeid in a Friday protest this May.
Each week villagers confront heavily armed Israeli soldiers guarding the Halamish settlement built on land stolen from Nabi Saleh.
Thank God It’s Friday does not focus on those confrontations as much as it bears witness to the daily lives of people in the village. Its emotional punch comes from the parents of Mustafa, who recount the final, fateful Friday when Israel killed their son.
“They’re trying to tell us something”
To this viewer there was an unexpected element to Thank God It’s Friday that distinguishes it from many other documentaries filmed in Palestine: the filmmakers spend time in Halamish, interviewing settlers.
One young woman who guides the filmmakers around the colony, showing off its swimming pool and other facilities, is eager to portray settlers as “normal.”
The film provides an insight into how the settlers relate to the Palestinians whose land they live on, and how they rationalize, justify or simply block from their minds the violence that makes this possible.
“They’re trying to tell us something but we don’t even pay attention,” one of the settlers says of the Friday protests. In another fascinating scene, settlers are invited watch some of the footage filmed in Nabi Saleh.
Beddegenoodts does not try to present a narrative of “two sides” who just misunderstand each other. He lets everyone speak for themselves. The result is 50 minutes of powerful viewing, even for those who think they already know much about the situation in Palestine.
Take the time to watch and share this remarkable film.