Mayor review – grappling with reality inside Ramallah city hall | Documentary films

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Musa Hadid is the popular Palestinian mayor of Ramallah in the West Bank, and this thoughtful, sympathetic documentary tracks his stressful day-to-day working life – shown suddenly getting a lot more stressful in 2017 when President Trump announced his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. Hadid feels strongly that this move emboldened Israel’s military to be more menacing in Ramallah, with soldiers marching into stores and demanding to see security camera footage on the grounds that there could be images of terrorists – and even doing the same at city hall.

The film lets you appreciate Hadid’s delicate and complex situation. He is often receiving high-profile international visitors and relishes the opportunity to show off the city he loves – the opening and closing sequences of this film, incidentally, almost feel like the introduction to Woody Allen’s Manhattan. One such VIP is Prince William, though some of Hadid’s colleagues are less than happy: “All the problems of our country come from Britain!” says one, referring to the 1923 Mandate.

Hadid is evidently irritated by some foreigners (such as a German delegation) who lecture him about the compromises necessary on both sides, implying an equivalence, and annoyed also that such events always come as a “balancing” of a visit to Israel. The boost for Ramallah, though gratifying in some ways, might also mean that the world might gradually come to think that it is the natural capital of Palestine, and Jerusalem the capital of Israel – though this is very far from what Palestinians want. And all the time the normal municipal problems have to be sorted out. Hadid is shown as touchingly enamoured of the impressive Vegas-style fountain display outside City Hall.

• In cinemas and on digital formats.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Mayor review – grappling with reality inside Ramallah city hall | Documentary films

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