Issue No.
171, July 2012 Latest update 9 2014f August 2014, at 4.39 am
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     Artist of the Month

Abeer Haddad

Abeer Zaibak Haddad is the director of the groundbreaking documentary Duma, which calls on Arab women who are victims of sexual abuse to step forward and break the social taboo against speaking out. She travels from the north to the south and meets five women from Palestine who dared to reveal the sexual abuse they endured in their close circles of family and friends. They all look for a way to break the systems of silence that were imposed on them by their families and society. “These women’s goal is to be heard, whether in privacy or out in the open,” Abeer says. “Their ambition is to turn the tables and lead abused women away from the circle of silence, shame, and asphyxia towards self-acceptance and the realisation that they are allowed to continue to live.”

Abeer doesn’t just address the issue of sexual abuse against women, but she also provides a space for them to tell their stories and face reality. She sheds light on the challenges they meet and confronts sexual abuse against women in Palestinian society. The film has screened in various venues, such as cultural centres, cinemas, universities, and schools, where it was discussed with the audience and students. The audience was taken back by the film, which often left them in tears. One viewer, Ziad Shallout, writes, “Abeer raised the topic boldly, courageously, and masterfully.” It is worth mentioning that Duma is among the only films ever made about sexual abuse against women. In a film review for Tsaloniki Film Festival, film critic Qais Qassem observes, “Duma indicates a new tendency in Palestinian cinema towards moving to self-display and criticism, which first started emerging in features with Elia Suleiman’s films and appears to be gaining ground.”

Born in Nazareth to a Palestinian mother and father, Abeer received her BA in the History of Theatre with excellence from Hebrew University and pursued her MA in the Arts of Theatre from Tel Aviv University. She entered a career in the arts. Among her theatrical work is Aunt Reem, a play she produced and acted in that won three prizes at the International Children’s Play Festival in Haifa. Another of her plays is Chocolates, which she wrote, produced, and also acted in for the Haifa Festival for Children’s Theatre won four prizes.  She also produced the monodrama Mr. Ibrahim and the Quran’s Flowers for the Habima Theatre and the Masrahid Theatre Festival in Akko where it won the first prize. She is the author of an important book about Palestinian theatre entitled, The Palestinian Theatre in the Galilee, and a lecturer at Bait-Barel College. She has found a powerful outlet through film, and Duma, received high praise. Among other festivals, the film was shown at the Mumbai International Film Festival in 2012, the Belgrade Documentary International Film Festival in 2012, and the International Documentary Film Festival CRONOGRAF in Moldova in 2012 under the thematic section “Women between Courage and Struggle.”

Currently, Abeer is working on another documentary film about honour killing, while Duma continues to be screened and discussed in different places around the world.


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