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Fix me-out 17 nov in Paris

Sunday 14 November 2010, by Abla Kandalaft

Fix me is, or at least aims to be, according to director Raed Andoni, a film about the migraines that plague him. And indeed, at first glance, the subject matter is Raed’s psychoanalysis, not particularly weird or abstract, the type undertaken by the likes of Tony Soprano. Importantly, Raed is adamant that this should be the focus of the film. He is very sensitive to the inevitable label of militancy that tends to adorn the work of Palestinian and Middle Eastern filmmakers. Raed, although he has an opinion on the subject, does not want to make a film about “the situation” in the Middle East, he refuses to act as a “bridge” between Palestinians and Israelis, under the misty-eyed glare of European and American critics. Fix me is not meant to expose, accuse or uncover. It is an (somewhat indulgent, often comical) account of one man’s struggle to cure his incessant headaches and rationalise what looks like an identity crisis.

Throughout the film we follow Raed as he undergoes analysis, speaks to friends and attempts to write down his observations. Although at times a little slow-moving, it is a touching, absurd, funny and Raed’s confidences to his psychoanalyst of being out of touch with the rest of his peers and the world in general are oddly reminiscent of Woody Allen’s dialogues.

And yet, the occupation hangs over everything like a black cloud. As he tries to uncover the reasons behind his physical and psychological perturbations, Raed delves into his own personal journey in which this political and economic reality is embedded. Firstly, it dots the landscape he films in. Raed is from Ramallah and whenever he goes for a drive he passes the infamous wall tracing the outlines of the territory he can circulate in, he encounters checkpoints and soldiers, there are areas he cannot travel to. As he talks to his family, his friends and acquaintances, talk of the consequences of the occupation are interwoven in their dialogues as it turns out that pretty much every man has a some point been to prison, without apparent reason, so much so it seems that doing time in Israeli jails is a rite of passage. This impression was only exacerbated by the fact that this was not the focal point of the conversations; it was just brought up now and again with the same emotional intensity of a disappointing university course. All of them had been submitted to, to put it very mildly, brutal treatment and yet they carried on conversing about loved ones, plans for the day, ambitions, TV shows. If nothing else, the film is a tribute to the sheer resilience people are capable of.

At one point, a British man tells Raed “Palestinians tend to accept as normal what in most countries would be considered abnormal”. Anything Raed’s interlocutors go through would be seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of their daily lives as much as career stress, relationship breakdown or paying the rent might be for the average European. As a consequent, Raed doesn’t have to go out of his way to avoid or include talk of conflict, occupation and restrictions; they make up the background for whatever story or plot he chooses to focus on. In fact, as he journeys through his own past, Raed sheds light on the role these might have played in something as mundane as his present migraine.

Overall, Fix me raises valuable questions of identity, something Raed feels is an increasingly slippery topic. Not quite a documentary, not quite a film, the hybrid genre might not appeal to everyone but it is captivating work nonetheless. It oscillates between absurd, sometimes surreal comedic moments and touching displays of humanity, without at any point being didactic or patronising towards its audience. It is an incredibly original piece of work and a testimony to the surprising development of a Palestinian film industry.

Dir: Raed Andoni, 2009

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