Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003

Divine Intervention

A helium-filled balloon with Yasser Arafat's face on it floats above a Palestinian checkpoint, and Israeli soldiers debate whether to shoot it down. Five soldiers confront a Palestinian woman reincarnated as a ninja superfighter who levitates, whirls and wins the battle. This is ethnic misery reimagined as puckish fantasy and, almost by default, the best film ever made in Palestine. Elia Suleimann recently won a battle of his own: the Motion Picture Academy, which had rejected Divine Intervention last year (on the grounds that Palestine is not a nation), changed its mind. Suleimann's deliciously dry comedy is now eligible for Best Foreign-Language Film.