"Hot House"converges with Edward Said's writing on the construction of identity. The spectator is given an"insider" perspective of the ideology behind the Palestinian conflict which lies in construction of a national identity, disrupting viewer expectations. I believe its intention is to engage the viewer in a dialogue which may lead to reshaping the way the conflict is perceived. Dotan disturbs our deeply embedded "western" perceptions.
I do not suggest that I sympathize with suicide bombing. To me it is an act of tragic desperation which I believe both sides realize it to be. As one prisoner notes, children are killed on both sides. I see the film's intention as showing the conflict up against a wall. As Edward Said notes, the resolution may reside in a new construction. The film brings up critical ideological considerations and offers insight on the parameters of the struggle. The detachment of the failed suicide bombers or planners is seen as part of a battle for statehood rather than a desire to indiscriminately kill others. The spectator also witnesses the impulsive testimonies of younger Palestinians willing to die or as one spoke, to sacrifice his children for the cause. It is viewed by the prisoners as a war where, as in all war, killing is justified. Since the Palestinians are outnumbered by the Israelis and cannot fight a war against Israeli soldiers, the prisoners explain their decision to act against civilians. The unchanging prison environment reflects the static conditions of the occupation and perhaps suggests the length of time the 10,000 imprisoned Palestinians have waited for national liberation.
The camera invades the personal space of the interviewed prisoners and jailers. We are witness to their humanity, the complexities and contradictions of a people, with all of their hope, anger, flaws, and patience. Even with Ahlam Tamimi, the camera exposes the depth of the sorrow she attempts to conceal behind her inflammatory smile. These close-ups are the focus of the film but they are juxtaposed with long shots: when the prisoners are at prayer, when the families visit, or when a group of men are participating in an interview or watching television. These serve to expose the cohesiveness of the prisoners united by family, by religion yet willing to sacrifice everything for statehood. To me, this film in conjunction with reading Orientalism suggests the need to view the struggle in the Middle East as one for social meaning, a reconstruction of identity which has absorbed European and American models (cultural elite, consumerism) and not address the conflict entirely as the "power politics" of an adversarial, "new empire of evil." The repetition and speeding up of the camera in the last testimonials suggest that this situation will continue although faces may change. The prisoners and their Israeli jailers can come to understanding (of course the Israelis still hold power here), but the myths are maintained in service to the patterns of power and dominance outside the walls of the Be'er Sheba Prison.
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