My Love Awaits Me by the Sea

/Mais Darwazah, 2013 (80 mins)

still from my love awaits me by the sea, a feature documentary by mais darwazah. world premiere Toronto International Film Festival, september 2013.

How do you return to a place that only exists in your mind?

synopsis

My Love Awaits Me by the Sea is a poetic documentary narrating the story of director Mais Darwazah, who takes a first time journey back to her homeland, Palestine. She leaves a secluded reality and follows a lover whom she has never met; Hasan, a Palestinian artist, who unveils a beautiful and utopian world to her. Fairytale and reality are woven together to question the elusiveness of place and the need to believe in dreams.

In a land fragmented and engulfed by years of struggle, she finds her tranquil love awaiting her in a ‘home’ protected and held together by today’s Palestinians. They defy their everyday reality - far removed from their needs - by holding onto their dreams.

This film pays tribute to Hasan Hourani, a Palestinian artist who, with his imagination, rises above the Occupation. Hourani completed ‘Hasan is Everywhere’, a children’s book of illustration and poetry, just before his tragic death by drowning in the forbidden sea of Jaffa in 2003.

Throughout the film, both worlds of dream and reality provoke one another, to ask the questions of ‘How do you return to a place that only exists in your mind?’ ‘How do you keep fighting for life when you’re surrounded by so much death?’ ‘How can you continue believing in a dream when the outside world lives another reality?’ And ‘how can you own your version of the truth when history has taken it from you?’

trailer

stills

still from my love awaits me by the sea, a feature documentary by mais darwazah. world premiere Toronto International Film Festival, september 2013.still from my love awaits me by the sea, a feature documentary by mais darwazah. world premiere Toronto International Film Festival, september 2013.still from my love awaits me by the sea, a feature documentary by mais darwazah. world premiere Toronto International Film Festival, september 2013.still from my love awaits me by the sea, a feature documentary by mais darwazah. world premiere Toronto International Film Festival, september 2013.still from my love awaits me by the sea, a feature documentary by mais darwazah. world premiere Toronto International Film Festival, september 2013.still from my love awaits me by the sea, a feature documentary by mais darwazah. world premiere Toronto International Film Festival, september 2013.

director's statement

In my world, loneliness, sadness, love, fragility and hope are emotions so often overshadowed by the bigger political picture of an unsettled Arab region. Borders continue to get tighter, freedoms more distant and elusive, as people are left with nothing more than helplessness and suffocation. Amidst this darkness, I needed to seek some light, and to make a film that would try to grant people a safe space to simply breathe and feel.

So I started with myself, as I knew if I kept waiting for “the dream” to happen, something inside me would die. I was going to leave my loneliness, fall in love and create my own ‘once upon a time’…

On a cold winter day in 2007, I stumbled across Hasan Hourani’s book and knew instantly that I found the friend I was seeking. I fell in love with a man I have never met, and would never meet, as Hasan drowned in Jaffa just a few years before. On a fateful day, Hasan left his home in Ramallah, escaping the confines of “The Wall” with some friends… just to relax and breathe by the sea in Jaffa, which they’re forbidden to access. He saw his nephew struggling in the water, and although he couldn’t swim, Hasan went into the water to try to save him. Tragically, they would both die on that day.

In his book “Hasan Is Everywhere” the artist drew himself as a little traveller boy, refusing adulthood to avoid the bitter reality of the present day. ‘The traveller’ rose above all confinements; he freed himself of gender, age, borders, and space; he lived underwater and on top of clouds; he consoled a lonely dinosaur and fell in love with a fish… “The traveller who closed his eyes when traveling, saw all that he needed to see with his heart”.

At the end, the bitterness of daily suffering catches up with Hasan, a young man who fought so hard to seek love. Yet, sadly, just like many other Palestinians, he ends up leaving this world too soon. The irony of his death has touched many people, as it became a metaphor of the daily suffocation imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli Occupation.

The layers of this love story are not like any other, as we, Palestinians, are denied the most basic feeling on earth – normality. Hasan’s beautiful ‘world’ urged me to take this first trip back to my forbidden homeland, to find my love, discover the place and create my own memories. I knew that if I could find others like Hasan I would be able to continue dreaming of the Palestine I sought, and eventually find my own logic of a more beautiful and fair world.

I decided to tell our story and discuss the most ‘normal’ things forbidden to us. This documentary refuses to accept any imposed reality and through the intimate, it touches on exhaustion and loneliness, and seeks to find the sweetness of love in a very harsh place.

biography Darwazah

Having worked across the Middle East in architecture, graphic design and television documentaries, Mais Darwazah’s independent film career started by making short experimental films. After finishing her undergraduate degree in Interior Architecture from Kingston University (UK, 1997), she received the Chevening scholarship from the British Council, completing an MA in Documentary Directing at Edinburgh College of Art (UK, 2007). Her graduation film Take Me Home (54’, 2008), was screened in more than 20 international film festivals. As part of an Arab feature documentary collective entitled Family Albums, she completed The Dinner (25’, 2012), which was co-produced with ARTE France and received the Special Mention audience award at Cinemed, 2012.
In 2010, Darwazah started developing My Love Awaits Me By the Sea, her first feature-length documentary, which has participated in several development workshops like the Berlinale’s Talent Campus DocStation, and received numerous regional and international funds such as the Sundance Documentary Development Fund. Her film was selected to officially screen and premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, 2013.
Mais currently lives and works in Jordan.

Selected Filmography

2013 My Love Awaits Me by the Sea – 80 mins
2012 The Dinner – 25 mins (component of collective feature documentary Family Albums)
2009 Aisha’s Journey – 8 mins
2008 Take Me Home – 54 mins

media (press)

stills download (.zip)
press kit download (.pdf)

festivals

Toronto International Film Festival, 2013 / WP
CPH:DOX, Copenhagen, 2013 / EP
(AFAC Best Feature Film) Latin Arab Film Festival, 2014
(Grand Prize) Festival Internacional de Cinema Feminino, 2014
(Best Documentary) Medfilm Festival, 2014
(Golden Linx Best Documentary) New Directors New Films, 2014
(Jury Prize) Ismailia International Documentary Festival, 2014

credits

FILMMAKERS
Director & ScreenplayMais Darwazah
ProductionThe Imaginarium Films, Little Wanderer Films
Co-ProductionMengamuk Films
ProducerRula Nasser
Co-producerMichel Balagué
Creative ConsultantHala Alabdalla
Line ProducerNajwa Mubarki
CinematographyArlette Girardot, Joude Gorani
2nd CameraMais Darwazah
Sound EngineeringIssa Qumsieh
EditingWardan
Sound Design & MixJochen Jezussek
Color GradingJorge Piquer Rodriguez
Live DrawingsMais Darwazah
MusicCynthia Zaven
Supported by
The Arab Fund for Arts & Culture, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Doha Film Institute, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program & Fund and Symbiosis Designs.
In association with Screen Institute Beirut
and with the participation of SANAD (The Development Fund of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, United Arab Emirates).
GUESTS/CAST
Ghayda Ajalyaqeen Darwazah, Hasan Hourani, Mohammad Reda Al-Haj Ahmad, Samer Hussam, Ammar Hanini, Muhannad Halawani, Nael, Leila & Maryam Kanj, Hazim Al Sharef, Mariam Yassine, Sheikh Amin A-Nabulsi, Hamdeh Mousa.