Cambodia International Film Festival

The Poem We Sang

The Poem We Sang

by Annie Sakkab

State of Palestine/2024/21 min


The Poem We Sang is a 20-minute, colour and black and white, experimental documentary that meditates on love and longing – the love of one’s family and the longing for one’s home, contemplated through overcoming the trauma of loss of family home and of forced migration, transforming lifelong regrets into a healing journey of creative catharsis and bearing witness.

The meditation on family love and longing for home centers on an old audio recording in which my uncle Elias was telling my brother how our family had to flee from the bombing in 1948 and run away from our family home at Al Baq’a neighbourhood in Jerusalem, Palestine, without personal belongings, thinking that the family would return home in a week’s time. Years later when my grandmother finally did return to the family home with my uncle just after the 1967 Six-Day-War, her home was occupied by settlers. My grandmother broke down in tears.

Connecting the parallel solitudes of my uncles’ sadness of losing their family home, and of my own regrets of not having spent more time with him, and of my neglect to prioritize love for family and home amidst my busy life, Is a powerful poem اby Palestinian poet Khalil Al-Sakakini, that my uncle and my father used to recite to me and my siblings over and over again during our childhood.

Verses of my sung version of this lyrical poem punctuate the parallel narratives of loss and regrets, bridging lost childhood memories with profound longing for an occupied homeland.

Visually richly layered with abstract visuals, family photos and archival footage of Palestine, the audio tracks are equally richly layered with my uncle’s voice-recording, and childhood anecdotes of my time in Bethlehem with him.

The Poem We Sang is at once deeply personal and fiercely nostalgic – a tribute to my uncle Elias and my family, and an ode to our lost family home in Palestine.