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Netflix to air Jordanian film in which Israeli soldiers murder Palestinian family

The narrative film ‘Farha,’ Jordan’s Oscar submission, depicts soldiers in 1948 killing an entire family, and advertising for it says it is based on true events

This article originally appeared on Haaretz, and was reprinted here with permission. Sign up here to get Haaretz’s free Daily Brief newsletter delivered to your inbox.

A Jordanian film that shows Israeli soldiers murdering a Palestinian family during the War of Independence will be available on Netflix as of Thursday.

“Farha,” directed by Darin J. Sallam, takes place in 1948. The plot is about a Palestinian girl whose father locks her in a dark storage room to protect her during the Israel Defense Forces’ assault on her village. It includes a scene in which the Israeli soldiers execute her entire family, including a baby. The film’s trailer and advertisements say it was inspired by real events.

Netflix Israel said it was looking into the matter.

The film has been shown at several international festivals, including the high-profile Toronto Film Festival, where it had its first screening in 2021.

Speaking at a different festival, the director said that when she was a child, she heard this story about a Palestinian girl being locked in a room by her father to protect both her life and “family honor.”

The girl survived and moved to Syria, said Sallam, where she shared her story with a Syrian girl. The Syrian girl then grew up, married and shared the story with her daughter – Sallam herself.

Since then, Sallam continued, she has never stopped thinking about that girl and what happened to her.

Jordan nominated the film as its candidate for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.

Sallam said she also made the film because while many movies are made about the Palestinians, she felt there was nothing about the root cause of what is happening today, that being the events of 1948.

The catastrophe of the Nakba, as Palestinians call the flight and expulsion of hundreds of thousands during the war, is an important event that’s widely ignored, she continued, and there is a dearth of Arab feature films about it.

While there are documentaries about the Nakba, there are no narrative films, she said, adding that stories are what generate and convey emotion.

In another interview, at a film festival in Saudi Arabia, Sallam discussed the seeming similarity between the protagonist of her film and Anne Frank. She said several people had drawn that analogy, and while she hadn’t thought of it when she made the film, she could understand why others did, because her protagonist goes through a similar trial.

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