April 24, 2019 | 63° F

Department of Middle Eastern Studies funds screening of '3,000 Nights' for Rutgers students

Photo by Abdallah Mohamed Ewis |

On Jan. 4, more than 50 students attended a screening of the Jordanian film, 3,000 nights in the Busch Student Center. The film follows the struggles of a Palestinian woman who wrongly incarcerated, and was funded by the Department of Middle Eastern Studies.

On Jan. 4, the internationally recognized Jordanian film, "3000 Nights," was screened in the Busch Student Center and was attended by over 50 Rutgers students, staff members and alumni.

The film was selected by Jordan to represent their country at the 89th Academy Awards, and by the Palestinian Authority as their entry in this year’s Golden Globe Awards. It portrays the story of a young Palestinian school teacher who is falsely accused of a being an accomplice to a crime, according to the Arab Film Festival website.

Diala Ghneim, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, has been working to screen the movie at Rutgers since October. He said since then, he has been finalizing legal work, copyrights, event funding and other logistics.

He first encountered the film at the annual Arab Film Festival in New York City, a global festival that celebrates Arab based films, acting and movie making, he said.

“It’s very important. No one talks about Palestinian women incarcerated, no one talks about giving birth in a prison, no one talks about these elements of Palestinian society,” Ghneim said.

Originally, Ghneim intended to fund the screening himself, but after discussing the process with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, they agreed to fund the event, he said.

Most movies depicting Palestine focus on the region’s humanitarian crisis, but always neglect the portrayal of Palestinian women, Ghneim said. The humanitarian aspect of the film attracted her to it.

“You need to find something that you're passionate about in order to pursue whatever you want to pursue ... If you're just passionate about something, you will do whatever it takes to get it done,” he said.

Daughter of the director and an actress in the film, Hanan Chamoun, said the story was inspired by factual evidence and anecdotes of Palestinian women who were incarcerated in the 1980s.

“This story is inspired by a woman who my mother met in the West Bank. In the First Intifada (Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation) she was a woman who was incarcerated and gave birth in prison to a baby boy. And my mother was very inspired by this story,” she said.

Currently a student at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute, Chamoun said she had to take a semester off to help her mother direct the movie.

The pre-production process, location scouting and casting for the movie took about five months, while the production process required about 33 consecutive days of shooting, she said. Production hours began at 5 a.m. and sometimes lasted until midnight.

“I cut off my social life, I cut off everything. My life back home in Beirut and my life in Jordan (were) so different,” Chamoun said.

An important aspect of making the film was getting the cast to think from the standpoint of an incarcerated Palestinian, she said. Many cast members, especially main characters, had the chance of directly communicating with the incarcerated individuals they were representing.

Khitam Edelbi, another actress in the film, also had a strong connection to the storyline, Chamoun said. Edelbi spent years visiting her incarcerated brother as a child.

“When we first arrived at the location, (Edelbi) got really emotional because she was traumatized from the experiences visiting (her brother) in the prison,” she said.

The movie was produced with the intent of effectively portraying the Palestinian struggle, especially from the perspective of women rather than for the purpose of maximizing profit, Chamoun said. Had profit maximization been the main intent of the film, the film would have looked very different.

Besides national and international recognition, she said that the movie proved especially popular on college campuses.

Abdallah Mohamed Ewis is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

Abdallah Mohamed Ewis

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