Ibrahim, my father, left the house in 1987 and never returned. I was 6 years old. He was a secret agent with the Abu Nidal Organization, the militant Palestinian faction that opposed the PLO’s attempts to adopt more peaceful solutions to the conflict with Israel. Not knowing what had become of Ibrahim, I grew up in a house in which silence reigned. My mother had to carry on as normal, bringing up five children. In this very personal investigative documentary, the author offers a portrait of a man who’s disappeared via the places he’d been to, the faces he’d known and the thinking that shaped his world…
“When did you stop waiting?” Sitting on a sofa, a girl questions her mother as she folds the laundry, cooks and knits. Inside houses and apartments, from Damascus to Berlin via Cairo and Beirut, Lina Al Abed questions her brother, sister and uncles as they go about their everyday business. It’s not only the geography and history of the Middle East that she stubbornly explores, but also that of a family – her family…a labyrinth, reminiscent of the labyrinthine Palestinian camp in Syria where she grew up. Like the scarf knitted from encounter to encounter, the film constantly interweaves the links between this personal territory and a little-known slice of the history of the Palestinian liberation movement. The mystery surrounding her disappeared father reveals deep wounds that have yet to heal, but above all shows the need for memory – “he who loses his memories no longer knows if he is alive or dead”.
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