Torn between doubt and conviction, an artist of Palestinian origin seeks advice from a confidant after signing a petition to boycott a concert by the British band Radiohead in Israel. The phone call between the friends deals with devastating powerlessness and the ironic absurdity of constantly being part of a conflict that has been going on for decades.
In parallel to the dialogue, the viewer sees a scenery that at first documents a protected, calm atmosphere: warm light falls through the window granting a view to a familiar residential settlement. A bright, well-sorted home with desks and work material can be seen. This calm, tidy environment strongly contrasts pictures of abandoned, gloomy alleyways, private film material of demonstrations, and nebulous, faded shots of refugee camps and settlements. What is shown is at all times in a field of tension between protection and vulnerability: the old and new homelands mingle, past and present are juxtaposed and become blurred. Views out the window allow us to comprehend the thoughts of a person who is physically in a secure environment but emotionally in the middle of a conflict. The spectators take on the position of silent voyeurs, and almost in passing feel able to empathize with the protagonist’s facets of inner discord. The observing gaze scans childhood photos, books, and research material. Then a female figure appears, like a shadow of her surroundings. It is almost as if she were descending into darkness to be fully absorbed by it in the end.
Mahdi Fleifel’s art deals with the broken reality of thousands of people who are indirectly and directly involved in confrontations in a region that for decades has refused to calm down. I Signed The Petition subtly confronts us with the question of whether a single voice should keep silent or speak up in the face of ongoing injustices. The film is both the sketch of a politically conflictual situation and the admission of strong personal convictions and deeply rooted fears. Not least, it demonstrates a firm attitude and the attendant hope for changes. (Joana da Silva)
* We can only show an excerpt of this work in the online archive. For the complete version, please contact the artist and Nakba FilmWorks.