“With a strong sense of irony and a deadpan visual style” (Janet Maslin, The New York Times), Chronicle of a Disappearance unfolds in a series of seemingly unconnected cinematic tableaux, each of them focused on incidents or characters which seldom reappear later in the film. Among the many unrelated scenes, there is a Palestinian actress struggling to find an apartment in West Jerusalem, the owner of the Holy Land souvenir shop preparing merchandise for incoming Japanese tourists, a group of old women gossiping about their relatives, and an Israeli police van which screeches to a halt so several heavily armed soldiers can get off the car and urinate.
Defined by writer/producer/director Elia Suleiman (Divine Intervention) as a “search for what it means to be Palestinian,” this “beautiful and understated” film is “a triumph of succinct images and adroit structure” (Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times). Split in two parts, “Nazareth Personal Diary” and “Jerusalem Political Diary,” Chronicle features outstanding performances by a cast of non-professional actors and combines a sarcastic sense of humor with moments of silent contemplation; it speaks of the absurdity and complexity of a people without a land.
But if the project of a Palestinian state remains stalled by a series of historical and political complications, Palestinian cinema has been, conversely, celebrated for several major contributions to world cinema. And while Chronicle of a Disappearance was shot in various locations across the Middle-East, it succeeds in evoking several fundamental issues concerning the post-1948 Palestinian struggle for a recognizable national identity. –Kino
Elia Suleiman is a Palestinian-Israeli film director and actor. He is best known for the 2002 film Divine Intervention, a modern tragic comedy on living under occupation in the Palestinian territories which won the Jury Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Between 1982-1993, Suleiman lived in New York City, where he directed two short films: Introduction to the End of an Argument and Homage by Assassination, that won numerous awards.
In 1996, Suleiman directed Chronicle of a Disappearance, his first feature film. It won the Best First Film Prize at the 1996 Venice Film Festival. In 2002, Suleiman’s second feature film, Divine Intervention, subtitled, A Chronicle of Love and Pain, won the Jury Prize at the Festival de Cannes and the International Critics (FIPRESCI) Prize, also receiving the Best Foreign Film Prize at the European Awards in Rome. Suleiman was part of the jury for the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. —World Cinema Foundation