The real militants are rioters, fighting for optimal values, exerting their family stability for their faith in the free man, abandoning our homelands and dying to death, but they are confronted with rejection and ingratitude, and everyone abandons them, and one of them finds himself a lonely homeless and lost without purpose, pursued without destination.
From these tragedies is made the documentary film "You Come from a Distant Land" (2018), directed by Egyptian Amal Ramsis. The film tells the story of three Palestinian brothers who were dispersed by their father's belief in universal values, and his work to achieve them in a reality where idealists have no place.
"Carlos". A Spanish volunteer tried to prevent the fall of Baghdad
The film begins with television scenes of Baghdad under American bombardment one night in the spring of 2003, seeing only the lights and flames flying to the sounds of pops. There is no doubt that it was the rockets and bombs that were thrown at the city, but if it were not for the sound of the hanging Amal Ramses that reaches us from outside the frame, we would think we are in a mass celebration, and that the scene represents fireworks in a world that no longer distinguishes between noisy celebrations and the wailing of funerals.
The voice recalls a message from Amal to a person called "Carlos", and we understand from the context that he is a Spanish volunteer who traveled to Baghdad trying to prevent war with a group of his comrades, and that he does so in return for the gratitude of the Arab fighters who fought for the freedom of Spain, during the civil war that broke out after the military coup and its seizure of power by force of arms, after the victory of the Popular Front alliance in 1936.
Just as these Arabs conveyed the message to "Carlos", he passed it to Amal Ramses, and with her influence she returns to turn the pages of their old struggle, and makes her film "You Come from a Distant Land" a message that puts her in the hands of spectators, until she turns them into madmen of the Carlos dynasty, or those adventurous Arabs.
Just as the sounds of explosions in the sky over Baghdad overlap on CNN, the voices of the interlocutors in the film "You Come from a Distant Land" overlap, so we hear the sound hanging between the distant clips, or the voice of Dawlat, Hind and Said, the sons of the Palestinian journalist Najati Sidqi (1905-1979), one of the most important activists of the communist movement in the Arab world at its beginning, and the most prominent writer of stories in Palestine.
Biography of the father. An element that brings together what separates from the family diaspora
The director takes us to pages from the struggle of the father Najati Sidqi within the international communist movement, and another from the Palestinian steadfastness despite the suffering and the life of the diaspora, and through all of this the film reveals to us the deep meanings of the human pulse related to the family and the homeland.
In the film, there are biographies of multiple faces, intertwined at times far apart at other times, including the biography of Dawlat, the biography of Hind, the biography of Said and the biography of their Ukrainian mother, "Lotka", while Father Najati Sidqi is an intellectual who believed in his convictions, and tried to embody them on the ground, and because of them he lived homeless between Moscow, Spain, France, Lebanon, Syria and Greece.
The biography of the father represents the unifying element that fuses this diaspora in a coherent whole, and turns it into a family biography with multiple topics, including the tragedy of the mother who believed in the revolution and man, so she left Ukraine her motherland, to live in a "suitcase", and to be sure before her death that she was a gypsy despite her nose, pursued by the British occupation because of her husband.
Siblings meeting after they were separated
It also includes the tragedy of children and their alienation as a result of the father's struggles and convictions, and the tragedy of the father who naively dreamed of a man free from all ethnic and religious constraints.
Dawlat A tree was plucked from its land and planted in another
The first scenes of the film show the old woman Dawling up the stairs, and her voice reaches us from outside the frame saying that it is a tree plucked from its soil and planted in another land.
The film works throughout its stages to confirm this metaphor, telling us that she was born in Jerusalem in 1930, and soon was thrown in prison to accompany her mother, after which the comrades decide to send her to a shelter in Russia (Koskova) under the name of Bint Saadi, the nom de guerre of her father. She then attends the Ivanov School near Moscow, which is dedicated to the children of the world's communist leaders.
The mother is free, so she joins Dawlat and stays with her in the Luxe Hotel from 1936 to 1939, then decides to return to Jerusalem for something the girl does not know, and takes her to the shelter again, she went to play with an Armenian girl as she ordered her, and then when she returned, she did not find her mother there, she left without saying goodbye to her.
Days of shelter. Good composition and severe suffering
The boys' state feels abandoned by her mother, while the old Dawlat tries to understand what happened and find excuses. She says her mother was being pursued, her name was blacklisted, and she no doubt had to leave Moscow after her husband Najati was expelled from France's Communist Party. And take her daughter where she doesn't know where she'll end up gambling with her life.
Although her life in the shelter lost her ties to her Arab culture, and although the misery of the war made lice spread among children and the cold and harm them at night, she finds her path ideal in terms of the quality of the school training, and in terms of the synergy of her peers of children.
She remembers the communist anthem and sings it enthusiastically, holding pictures of her mother and remembering her life with her during the hotel stay, and because she smoked and drank coffee in her days, her nostalgia for her pushed her to enter the tobacco shops after her sudden departure, where she would find something of her smell that compensated her for her loss.
The tree that was planted away from its original soil
Dawlat tries to hold together, armed with the wisdom of the elders, but the child's consciousness, governed by impulsiveness and emotion, suddenly overcomes, her narcissistic wound expands, and her tears flow as she remembers her mother's abandonment of her, and she is unable to continue the narrative.
Beirut Nights. The conflict of Arab belonging and Russian identity
It was possible for Dawlat to resume her eastern life without pain, as her father came in 1946 to the shelter to retrieve her, and she was not more than 16 years old at the time, but the Soviet authorities refused to hand her over to him, and this was a punishment for him after he was attached to the list of those who were angry with them, for his lack of discipline, and his criticism of state policies, or perhaps they saw that the child was of their own making, and they saw in her father a threat to the purity of her communist affiliation and her absolute loyalty to the leaders.
At that time, the family had no choice but photographs to share their lives with the detained child, and to establish a shared memory with them, so they constantly sent her family photos. When diplomatic relations were established between Lebanon and the Soviet Union 10 years after Dawlat was refused to be handed over to her father, the daughter asked to visit her parents, who were living in Beirut at the time, and the authorities immediately agreed and the Red Cross funded her travel.
There Dawlat found herself orientalist Eastern, the origin of Orientalism is to pull the Westerner to the East to deepen his knowledge of his civilization and study the conditions of its peoples, languages, history and civilization, but Dawlat despite her affiliation to this civilization, was fascinated by all the Eastern scenes.
As a painter and engineer, she recorded all these scenes, and at the same time, due to her Russian culture and her disconnection from her origins, she found her family's lifestyle strange, for example, unable to absorb the image of her father giving orders in the salon to serve her mother, and when she was sure that she could not live with her new situation, she decided to return to Moscow again to remain torn, there she felt that she belonged to the Middle East, and in Beirut her sense of Russian belonging was amplified.
"I came to defend freedom in Madrid." Naive dreams
Despite everything, Dawlat seems proud of her father, with all his achievements and the few moments of kindness that life has given them, in meeting them at the shelter on his way to participate in the Spanish Civil War in 1936, or in the way he greeted her when she visited Lebanon.
Dawlat explains her father's position in a way that looks like defending him: he was against the monarchy and against the British mandate, he was wanted by the authorities there, and after his release from prison, his affiliation with the Comintern forced him to move to Spain.
The leftist Popular Front was fighting its civil war against the military after the January 1936 coup, and Francisco Franco, who would rule Spain until 1975 as a dictatorship, was one of its opponents, where he published the secret newspaper "Voice of the People" for Arab internationalist volunteers for three years.
Director Amal Ramses
His struggle embodied the great dreams of human liberation and the spread of justice, and his answer to a Spaniard from the Front reveals this "naïve" dream, as he says introducing himself: I am an Arab volunteer, I came to defend freedom in Madrid, Damascus in the Valley of the Stones, Jerusalem in Cordoba, Baghdad in Toledo, Cairo in Kadesh, and Tetouan in Burgos.
Moroccans "Franco". The beginning of the rift with the comrades of struggle and struggle
It seems that Najati Sidqi was living his communist affiliation with a euphoria that lost the sobriety of politicians. This is revealed by his enthusiasm and fascination upon his arrival in Barcelona, and he dwells on the revolutionaries and their red flags. On the other hand, it seems that the presence of Moroccans fighting in the camp of "Franco" and supporting fascism has worsened him, so he chose to sign his articles in the name of Mustapha Ben Jala, to give his signature a Moroccan tone that appeals to them, and then took the initiative one day to talk to them, asking them to leave their camp and surrender themselves to the revolutionaries or to the supporters of the Republic, and promised to pardon them.
But his work angered his communist friends as much as the Republicans together, as his enemy was reckless and normalized with fascism, and then things were further exacerbated after his criticism of the agreement between "Stalin" and "Hitler" signed in 1939, which stipulates that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union remain neutral in the event of an attack by one of the parties from a third party, and the agreement includes a secret clause that divides northern and eastern Europe between the two parties.
The comrades found in the position of Najati Sidqi exceeded all red lines, so they froze his involvement in the Communist Party for his audacity, and when the comrades abandoned him – he was then in Paris – he faced many problems, the least of which is the feeling of alienation and neglect, in addition to want and need without a doubt.
Meanwhile, the mother, who was accompanying her daughter Dawlat in Moscow, lost the sympathy and care of the Russian authorities, and had to leave, choosing for her daughter to stay in the shelter rather than with a woman wandering without a breadwinner.
"Someone says fascists are good bullfighters"
In addition to the voices of Dawlat and the rest of the children, and the voice of the father who attends through the memoirs, the voice of director Amal Ramses is clearly present, so he comes to us from outside the framework to be a poetic narrative contemplating according to which "cities are similar when bombed", or "features are similar when escaping raids", or he addresses these volunteers, saying:
"You come from afar
and these far
distances what do you mean to your blood, which sings without limits
, inevitable death calls you by your names every day
, no matter in which city, in which field or road"
These sounds are prepared in no order, and the time line is shattered, and its cracks generate an emotional and mental state in the spectator that simulates the confusion of the past. However, major events maintain their gradualism, such as Najati's resistance to the monarchy and English colonialism, his imprisonment in Acre, his departure to Spain and his return to Lebanon, and his departure to Athens after the outbreak of civil war there.
This is what gave the total building its cohesion, despite the fragmentation of the minor building blocks and details, so it adopts the metaphor and mentions the image of the exhausted Spanish bull drenched in blood, and the fighter who enjoys killing him, accompanied by Najati's saying with despair, "Someone says that the fascists are good bullfighters", in order to express his disappointment after the defeat of the communists in the face of "Franco", and ends with the unity of the sons while they are hosted by a state in Moscow, and begins with the dispersion of the family in different places in the world, and ends with the unity of their deep sense of belonging to Palestine.
Therefore, compared to the simplification that the documentary is witnessing these days, and the withdrawal from the field of art to the field of consumption, we can talk about the richness of the cinematic language of the film, and the depth of its treatment of the family story to turn it into a significant sample and a positive message for the Palestinian diaspora.