The “companion guide” to “Paradise Now” by Germany’s Federal Bureau for Political Education (BPB) about which Matthias Küntzel writes in “Suicide Bombing ‘for a Higher Ideal’” is prominently featured on the BPB website. If you click on the thumbnail on the BPB page (not here, sorry), a pop-up opens displaying in large format the cover of the brochure in all its glossy glory.
The cover shot is the same shot reproduced on Trans-Int along with Matthias Küntzel’s article. But what is especially interesting is how the BPB has designated the photo in the browser bar: “Teaserbild”. Teaser-image. Teaser? This is, of course, a marketing term and suggests that the BPB is, in effect, promoting “Paradise Now”. This impression is reinforced by the Tarantino-esque “cool” of the depicted protoganists, which will no doubt appeal to the sensibilities of the BPB’s teenage target audience.
Why so much engagement by a German federal agency on behalf of a Palestinian film? Well, the answer to this question lies in the fact that “Paradise Now” is not a Palestinian film, but rather in large measure a German one.
The making of the film was financed by a variety of German public agencies: the German Federal Cultural Foundation (via the so-called World Cinema Fund), the German “Land” of Nordrhein-Westphalia, the Media Board of the German “Lands” of Berlin and Brandenburg, and the German-French public television Arte (which readers of the old Trans-Int will remember from posts such as this one and this one). The producers also received a grant from the Council of Europe film fund Eurimages and funding from the MEDIA program of the European Union. For what it is worth, the German co-producer of “Paradise Now”, Bero Beyer, also wrote the screenplay. It is thus that “Paradise Now” could win the award at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival for Best European Film: a fact that, as I noted at the time, is “symptomatic of the increasing symbiosis between the Palestinian ’cause’ and European institutions and personalities”.
Incidentally, Arte – a broadcaster that is directly subsidized to the tune of some 500 million euro per year by the German and French taxpayers – also co-financed both La Porte de Soleil and Route 181: two films, a drama and documentary respectively, that openly seek to draw parallels between the displacement suffered by Palestinian Arabs with the founding of the state of Israel and the genocide suffered by European Jews under the Third Reich – thus, in effect, establishing as well a tacit equivalence between the Jewish founders of Israel and the Nazis. As the filmmakers have admitted in an interview with Le Monde (11 March 2004) , Route 181 repeatedly “quotes” Claude Lanzmann’s classic documentary Shoah to this effect. (On La Porte de Soleil, see Armand Laferrère’s account from last October on EURSOC.)
One of the providers of support for the making of “Paradise Now” is the so-called World Cinema Fund, a joint initiative of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Berlin Film Festival in cooperation with the Goethe Institute. One could raise some questions about the propriety of the Berlin Film Festival bestowing awards upon a film it financed. But that is not my subject here. A World Cinema Fund press release describes its mission as follows:
The World Cinema Fund brings together German producers and foreign partners in the regions designated for support: recipients are German producers who collaborate with foreign directors and producers on their projects.
It is safe to say that without European and notably German support – and, moreover, and this is important to emphasize, public support from European institutions and German state agencies – “Paradise Now” would never have been made. So, in short, if “Paradise Now” is a work of propaganda, it is not so much a work of Palestinian propaganda as it is a work of European/German propaganda on behalf of the “Palestinian cause”.