Movie Details

Israeli-born Palestinian Elia Suleiman spent ten years away before returning home to make Chronicle of a Disappearance. The film is divided into two parts. The first section, "Nazareth Diary," presents a series of vignettes, most dryly comic, that capture life amid Palestinians who live in Israel. Many of the brief scenes feature the filmmaker himself, his parents, and other relatives. Suleiman's mother and aunt have a spirited argument about the use of garlic. Suleiman's father distractedly watches a tennis match on television. A car screeches to a halt in front of a café, the driver and passenger charging out in the midst of a heated argument. They have to be restrained by the people sitting at the café. A few scenes later, a similar scene occurs with a different car. The proprietor of the Holy Land souvenir shop (Jamal Dehar) pours tap water into little "holy water" bottles affixed with golden crosses. In the second section of the film, "Jerusalem Political Diary," these vignettes continue, but a new, loose narrative thread eventually usurps them, and the proceedings become decidedly less realistic and more absurd. Suleiman attempts to explain his film to an audience, only to be drowned out by ringing cell phones, crying babies, and the feedback from his microphone. A young Palestinian woman, Adan (Ula Tabari), attempts to rent an apartment. An Arab real estate agent recommends she live with her parents. Israeli landlords in West Jerusalem are impressed with her Hebrew, but refuse to rent to her when they learn she's Palestinian. The film becomes more overtly political as Adan finds a police walkie-talkie and slyly manipulates a group of bumbling Israeli policemen. The film was a hit on the festival circuit, and was recognized as the best first feature at the 1997 Venice Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi