Drama, Short, 20 mins
Synopsis: Yasmine, an openly lesbian Arab nurse, finds out that her lover, Orr, an intelligence officer in the Israeli army have been reporting on their relationship. Yasmine’s sister arrives for a visit from the West Bank, not knowing that she is going to meet the occupying enemy at her own sister’s house.
A film that recognizes the complex and hostile environment in which the two protagonists […] find themselves and that the sentiment of “no matter the obstacle” is not always possible.
I’ll be honest, when I read the synopsis to Samira Saraya’s Polygraph, there was a part of me that was skeptical. I feared that it would be a simplified version of Romeo and Juliet, with Palestinians and Israelis in the place of the Montagues and Capulets. From the rating it’s been given, you can be assured that this is most definitely not the case. Rather, it is a film that recognizes the complex and hostile environment in which the two protagonists, Yasmine (Samira Saraya) and Orr (Hadas Yaron), find themselves and that the sentiment of “no matter the obstacle” is not always possible.
The film starts a year on in Yasmine and Orr’s relationship, hours before Orr, an Israeli intelligence officer, is due for a yearly background check and polygraph. Just as she’s making them coffee, Yasmine, an Arab nurse, finds out Orr’s been reporting on their relationship to the Israeli army. “Where you are from,” Orr explains, “what you do, your family. Nothing special.” Of course, we know it’s not nothing special. This is not the kind of information your lover usually shares with their employer. To make matters more complicated, that same night Yasmine’s sister, Jahan (Fidaa Zidane), from the West Bank has plans to stop by for dinner. Unlike Yasmine, she has little patience for the Israeli army and anyone associated with it.
Like a good short film, Polygraph is an episode within a larger narrative. It doesn’t try to pack everything into the limited time it has, but instead it gives a glimpse into the tensions that arise within a Palestinian-Israeli romantic relationship (made even more difficult if, like Orr, one of them is serving in the Israeli army). However – and this is where many short films fail to take advantage of the format – it is a film that uses the short running time to play with the silences and omissions that we can surmise form part of this relationship. Orr only tells Yasmine a year later that she’s had to report on their relationship. Yasmine doesn’t tell her sister what her girlfriend does. It’s an affair that can only be understood when one takes into account the interstices that lie between outward appearances, when what is not said is equally as, if not more, important than what is said. Perhaps this is best appreciated in the cinematography, whereby the couple are almost always on opposite sides of the shot. Although both women fit into the same frame, there is nonetheless a gap between them that seems difficultly bridged. Perhaps the same could be said of the two surrounding territories.
If this is a film that interests you, make sure to catch it in this year’s Wicked Queer Film Festival! It’s only on for a few more days, so make sure you don’t miss it!