The Last Days of Yasser Arafat
Australia/Palestine, 2006, 77 minutes
Wed, May 2 / 01:15 / Kabuki / LAST02K
Sun, May 6 / 06:15 / Kabuki / LAST06K
In September 2003, sure that Yasser Arafat’s days were numbered and that he had a story to tell, Australian-Palestinian director Sherine Salama headed to Ramallah. It was not until a second visit the following year that she was granted a brief interview, which turned out to be the ailing Palestinian president’s last. Combining personal history, chance, idealism and practical expediency, Salama makes her political points not only through Arafat’s revealing words but also by detailing the trials and tribulations she endures while pursuing the controversial leader. As her quest for the interview continues, Salama also focuses on subplots and supporting players in the Arafat story. From the cab driver who urges him to step aside to old comrades—long gone from center stage—who opine on current issues, the diverse personages surrounding Arafat illuminate the complexities of the intra-Palestinian struggle. Former colleague Bassam Abu Sharif is a particularly arresting figure on camera, and this is the only documentary on Palestine in which he appears. Listening closely to the people and stories she encounters, Salama provides a revealing glimpse of the political and personal turmoil endemic to the man, his territory and his era. The Last Days of Yasser Arafat is a must-see for anyone even mildly interested in the ongoing saga of the Middle East.
This film is competing for a Golden Gate Award. Presented in association with the Arab Film Festival.