Chronicle of a Disappearance

Director: Elia Suleiman
Screenwriters: Elia Suleiman

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


This first-time effort from Palestinian director Eli Suleiman is so profound that it teases you with its simplicity. The film, which won the Best First Feature Award at Venice, is structured as a diary The first part, “Nazareth Personal Diary,” begins with a series of delightful and ironic vignettes, slices of life in the Jerusalem countryside. Characters wander in and out and essentially write their own entries. Particularly interesting is a scene of the spot where Jesus supposedly walked on water, which is now so polluted from tourist waste that anyone could walk on it.

In Part Two, “Jerusalem Political Diary,” we finally meet the author and see from his perspective the strange goings-on around him, beginning with a pretty young woman trying to rent an apartment in Jerusalem. In a hilarious series of scenes, the author gets involved in her life when he finds a walkie-talkie belonging to her and her rebel friends planning a coup. Chronicle of a Disappearance takes us on a journey from realism to surrealism and back again. With its poignant final image, Suleiman chillingly communicates the heartache of Jerusalem, as two elderly Palestinians stare blankly at a TV set broadcasting the national anthem and flag of a foreign nation, Israel.

— Mary Kerr

Screening Details


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