Said the Dove to the Olive Tree – Interabang Productions

Written by Amira Al Shanti

Directed by Ryan Dewar

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The complexity in describing the identity, feelings and relations Palestinians have away from their home, displaced across the globe, is an intense subject to undertake. One that, tragically, many claim to comprehend to persecutions but have never gone beyond a media headline. Created by Amira Al Shanti, and produced by Interabang Productions, Said the Dove to the Olive Tree is a twelve-minute video that charters the diaspora in Scotland, told through Al Shanti’s spoken word performance against striking backdrops, original composition and heartrending eloquence and realism. 

The poetic nature captures the sepia-tinted nostalgic romanticism many have for their homeland, one which Al Shanti cannot return to, and the crushing reality of the oppression and destruction of Palestinians and their heritage. Shot over four days through six different Scottish councils, the structure of the film not only pays tribute to the roots of Palestinians in Scotland, but the supporters in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee through the various monuments and memorials.

It’s understandable to become lost in the film’s spectacular landscape imagery as it weaves between the majestic shorelines and forests of Scotland, from Glencoe and Skye to the Peartree fields and hypnotic tones and colours of Palestine. Principally shot by director and editor Ryan Dewar, the film ties together the nations both within the literal writing and with the editing as the shots have elements to suggest the landscapes are noticeably similar (if only sunnier in Palestine…)

And as Al Shanti’s writing notes that the Apple trees and Bramble bushes of Scotland are but cousins of the Jaffa Orange groves and Olive trees of the East – there’s a significant attempt to tie the relations between Scotland and voices from Palestine even closer. The metaphorical rhythm Al Shanti carries is instinctual in construct, easy to listen to even when dissecting the grimmer points of purpose. It all marries well to Gordon Robertson’s sound design and Overture composition, which carries the words with a nuance of measured consideration, inviting but dramatic where required.

If you don’t understand the atrocities, oppression and ongoing struggles occurring in Palestine – you’re not alone. It’s okay to admit you’re not entirely clear on where the fighting originates, or even what or how the continuation of the death and suffering is permittable. What’s worse is to fail to recognise this, and rather than challenge yourself to discover – to live on and pretend to have a grasp of the complexities of other cultures and nations. While you may not be able to single-handedly solve the issues, listening is the best way to start.

And Said the Dove to the Olive Tree is an accessible entrance into doing your part. A short production, with a poetic language spoken directly from a place of agony and longing for another home, Amira Al Shanti’s authentic performance is evident through their writing in how instrumentally personal the film is to them – to broaden the minds of as many watchers as possible, and utilising a creative means to give a face to the heartbreak and a voice to the silenced. 

For further information, including a list of Scottish ally and support groups, and the chance to watch Said the Dove to the Olive Tree for free, please visit the Interabang website.

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