Ancient stone walkways lead a woman to the place where she suffered a “Setback of the Spirit;” returning to the home that she was forced to abandon a lifetime ago sparks vivid memories of the last moments she spent with her husband. Independent filmmaker Sa’ed Arouri said he used this fictitious scene in his 2017 short film, “Setback of the Spirit,” to depict the profound grief of the Palestinian people. “Our film has an important message for all the land and all peoples,” Arouri said, “that the love and normal life of the Palestinian people is part of His innate nature. Is like the rest of the people in the earth, and he is keen to hold on to his land and his life.”
Arouri drew on historical events to inform his film. In 1948 and again in 1967, the Palestinians were forced from there homes by the Israeli occupation. “About 300,000 Palestinians left the impoverished West Bank for Transjordan (later Jordan) during the year after the 1948 war; and about 380,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank after it was captured by the Israelis in 1967,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Arouri observes, “as time went by [Jordon] became a cemetery where the Palestinian people lived and, in the hope, that one day they would return home. He says, “The film came from a simple idea of how a person can imagine that he will live the last day of his life with someone he loves, how he can act and what he can do with him.”
“Setback of the Spirit” was completed in February 2017, and it premiered soon after at the 2017 2nd Annual Real-Time International Film Festival in Lagos, Nigeria. The film has been shown at over a dozen festivals internationally, including the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival 8th edition, June 2017, in Calcutta India. There it won the Golden Fox Award for “Best Student Film.” At the 5th Annual Tiharqo International Award for Cinema and Art 2017, “Setback of the Spirit” garnered awards for Best Actress, Nibal Awadi, and Best Cinematography, Ahmad Saif.
Arouri ‘s film presents a humanitarian view of the struggles caused by the history of war between Israel and Palestine. The director feels that it is vital for America and the world to see this depiction of the Palestinian people because, as he puts it, “American politicians affect the course of the peace process, especially the last period since the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He added, “That decision by the United States affected the public life of the people, [who were] frustrated and shocked by these policies.”
Sa’ed Arouri is a filmmaker, with more than twelve years of experience in production and education. He has worked on as many as eighty short and five feature-length documentaries. He also co-directed what he claims is the first adventure series in the Middle East; “Ethiopia on Steps,” for the Al Jazeera documentary channel. Arouri is completing his Bachelor of Arts in Digital Film Making at SAE Institute, Amman Jordan, with a focus on fictional narrative. He has directed two Short Fiction Films to date, ‘”Yalla Nteer,” translated “Lets Fly” and ‘”Nakset Rouh,” translated “Setback of the Spirit.”
Arouri is excited about how “Setback of the Spirit” has been received by the public and competition judges. “Thank God, the echoes were very beautiful for the film. People liked the idea. Especially when I traveled to Nigeria, I was watching them. The vote was here!”