Mohammad Bakri

Mohammad Bakri

Personal Info

Years in active : From 1986 To Present
Country of resident : Palestine
City : Ramallah
Gender : Male
Date of birth : 1/31/1953


During Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002, the Israeli Defense Forces invaded a Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin. Nine percent of the camp was leveled and over 50 people were killed. According to the spokesmen for the Israeli military, the IDF refused to allow journalists, human rights and humanitarian organizations into the camp for “safety reasons” during the fighting, leading to a rapid cycle of rumors that a massacre had occurred. Jenin remained sealed for days after the invasion. Stories of civilians being buried alive in their homes as they were demolished, and of smoldering buildings covering crushed bodies, spread throughout the Arab world. Various casualty figures circulated, reaching into the mid-hundreds.

Bakri entered the camp as soon as was feasible, and in the midst of great controversy and confusion over the results of the invasion, in both the Arabic and Hebrew press, began to collect oral testimony from Jenin residents. Out of this effort came the film Jenin Jenin, documenting both the trauma of the survivors, and an utterly wasted camp. Some of the survivors described a massacre of hundreds of people. Bakri did not interview Israeli officials.[2] The film title referenced Palestinian taxidrivers calling “Ramallah, Ramallah, Ramallah,” or “Jenin! Jenin!” to Palestinian workers and travellers moving through Israeli checkpoints.

Soon after it was released, after only three showings, Jenin Jenin was banned by the Israeli Film Board in 2002, accusing the film of being libelous for calling itself a documentary despite documenting only one ‘side’ of the story. Nevertheless, Bakri showed the film at the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem cinemateques and at Arab theaters such as Al-Midan in Haifa.

Bakri petitioned the High Court of Justice against the censor for prohibiting the screening of the film on the grounds that it distorted the truth. After a long fight, the court rejected the censor’s decision. In 2004, the Israeli High Court finally upheld its earlier overturn of the ban, but joined the Film Board in labeling the film a “propagandistic lie,” based on Israeli sources which acknowledged only 52 Palestinian deaths, 38 of whom Israeli sources argued were armed fighters.

In 2007, five soldiers who fought in the Jenin refugee camp during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 sued the cinamatheques in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for screening the film in the midst of the ban, and sued Bakri for 2.5 million NIS for producing the film.[2] In July 2008 Bakri was acquitted of the charges.

Jenin-Jenin earned two awards: the “Best Film” award at the Carthage International Film Festival, 2002, and the International Prize for Mediterranean Documentary Filmmaking and Reporting.

Iyad Samoudi, the film’s Executive Producer, was killed at Alyamoun at the end of the filming by Israeli soldiers on 23 June 2002

Achievements and Awards

Award for the Best Actor for the role in “Private” in Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema 2005

Bronze Leopard for the Best Actor for the role in “Private” by Saverio Costanzo, Locarno International Film Festival 2004

Palestine Prize for Cinema 1999 Ramallah

Award for the Best Actor for the role in “Haifa” by Rashid Masharawi, Valencia Festival 1997

Award for the Best Actor for the role in “Beyond the Walls II” by Uri Barabash, Valencia Festival 1994

Award for the Best Actor for the role in “Beyond the Walls” by Uri Barabash, Israel 1984

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