Nazareth, today. An old couple lives wearily to the rhythm of daily routine. On the other side of the border, in Ramallah, their son Tarek wishes to remain an eternal bachelor, their daughter is about to give birth, while her husband lands a movie role and the grandmother loses her head... Between check-points and dreams, frivolity and politics, some want to leave, others want to stay but all have personal affairs to resolve.
In the director's statement, Haj says that the film inspires to present a different look and way of handling and confronting the social and political obstacles in Palestinian society. The film tries to shed light on true stories that usually don’t receive any reference in light of the conflict. "I believe", writes Haj, "that the personal voice has to be herd and emphasized and not only the general voice that you usually hear in the media. The film wishes to show that one can look at Palestinian society from more than one angle aside from the Political and national ones. The film tells three stories that are related to each other and characters that are focused in their own personal affairs. There are no heroes or freedom fighters in the film … I focused on ordinary people… my characters have small dreams… they try to fulfil them and look for instant pleasure".
What inspired Haj to start writing the story was a photo her brother sent her of a cabin and two empty chairs overlooking a lake in Sweden. A planned visit by her parents to the cabin inspired her to start writing. Haj writes "I had an idea for a film: what will happen to a couple that has been married for over 50 years if you tear them from their home, Nazareth, and take them to such a beautiful and serene place, yet also so foreign and alienated? What will happen to them? to their relationship? What happens to the kids? And Nazareth?
Maha Haj was born in Nazareth. She received her first cinematic experience as artistic director in Elia Suleiman's "The Time that remains", "Personal Affairs" is her first full length feature film.
The film premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival - Un Certain Regard. Winner of the Best feature film Award at the Haifa Intl. Film festival and winner of the Critics choice at the Montpelier film festival.
Produced by: Baher Agbaria
With: Amer HLEHEL, Mahmoud SHAWAHDEH, Sana SHAWAHDEH, Doraid LIDDAWI, Maïssa ABED EL HADI
Editor: Veronique Lange D.O.P: Elad Debi