Film Review: ‘Junction 48’ by Zuzanna Harasimiuk

Director: Udi Aloni


Samar Qupty, left, and Tamer Nafar in “Junction 48", New York Times.



In the poor city of Lod near Ben Gurion airport lives young Palestinian Kareem (Tamer Nafar): he works in a call centre, hangs out with his friends, smokes up and deals, but most importantly he tries to build his career as a rapper. A terrible accident in his family prompts Kareem to indulge into music, and as the story unfolds, together with friends he uses music as an outlet for these experiences of Palestinians living in Israel. The audience engages in the struggle to save a house from demolition, cheers the relationship of Kareem and his girlfriend Manar against social ostracism, and hopes for professional success of the hip-hop group.


Junction 48 resembles a diary of an artist: events occurring in Kareem’s life are reflected in his songs which talk about oppression coming from both the Israeli and Palestinian society. When Kareem performs in a club in Tel Aviv, he enters into an interaction with Israeli rappers who base their work on national pride and exclusive identity; when he organises a concert with his girlfriend, he hits the wall put by patriarchy and culture of honour. This way, the movie portrays intersectionality of what it means to be a Palestinian, precisely one who lives in Israel, and shows differences between generations and genders.


As the audience is informed in the very beginning, Lod used to be a Palestinian city which in 1948 was repopulated with Jewish residents. Nowadays, it serves as an example of difficult coexistence full of prejudice, misunderstandings and discrimination; a symbolic junction of the past with the present, peace with war, dreams and reality. However, the atmosphere in the movie remains hopeful, and so do the creators: director Udi Aloni and the producers are Israelis who wanted to use their privilege to provide a platform for Palestinian actors to make their voice heard and express the reality they have to deal with every day. Junction 48 is a product of cultural exchange between people who strive to foster understanding and raise awareness, and therefore it constitutes a beautiful act of cooperation, spiced with music which will convince even the greatest hip-hop sceptics.



 

Zuzanna Harasimiuk currently studies International Security at Sciences Po Paris and she holds a bachelor degree in Middle Eastern studies from the same university. She is particularly interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and she tries to deepen her understanding of both cultures to identify opportunities for a dialogue. She likes cinema, literature and a good cup of tea.