Muayad Alayan’s debut feature film Love, Theft and Other Entanglements had its British premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 26 June. An accomplished, stylish thriller, the film tells the story of Mousa (Sami Metwasi), his desire to escape a life of poverty under the occupation, the complicating factor of his love affair with Manal (Maya Abu al-Hayyat) and the disastrous spiral of consequences when the car he steals turns out to have a kidnapped Israeli soldier in the trunk.
In a recent interview with The Electronic Intifada, Alayan said that he and his brother and co-writer Rami were “trying to write a story about an average human being, living in Palestine, trying to get away from his problems and the problems of occupation.”
Deliberately moving away from portrayals of Palestinian characters as heroes, villains or victims, Mousa’s very ordinary, flawed character combines with the innovative use of black-and-white footage to help “to step away from the stereotypical images that international audiences are used to … we wanted to give the stage to the characters and the story,” he explained.
As Alayan points out, “the situation under occupation in Palestine puts you in places where you are forced to act and react in situations which are much bigger than you,” and Mousa’s story is very much that of a man who is completely out of his depth.
“Affecting the whole of humanity”
Reflecting on the wider roles and responsibilities of artists in Palestine, actor Sami Metwasi added that “it’s been a long journey for the Palestinians, especially the intellectuals, writing about the conflict and revealing the truth to the world.”
According to Metwasi, “it’s been in stages … we see this issue as more international, it’s affecting the whole of humanity because this region is a hotspot. So it’s about reprogramming the mentalities and politics and how people look at the region … because this impacts on the mentalities of people within Palestine, people see themselves as Palestinians instead of like other human beings. We need to learn from history how people have dealt with conflict.”
In relation to this particular film, Metwasi feels that “if we look at things more objectively we can look at stories as a bigger picture, as something richer and more diverse” and with global as well as local resonance.
Listen to the interview with Alayan and Metwasi via the media player above.