Paradise Lost

A film by Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana

Israel | 2003 | 56 minutes | Color | DVD | Hebrew | Subtitled | Order No. 04828


Arab Israeli filmmaker Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana grew up in Paradise (Fureidis in Arabic), a small fishing village overlooking the Mediterranean. One of the few Arab communities remaining after the 1948 war, Paradise became culturally and politically isolated as Jewish settlements sprung up around it, and today it is a place defined by silence and repression.

This thought-provoking and intimate film diary follows the director’s attempt to recreate the village’s lost history, including the story of her childhood hero Suuad, the legendary local “bad girl” who was imprisoned as a PLO activist in the 1970’s and banished from the community. The director’s frustration builds as her questions are resisted, and her hopes soar when she finally meets Suuad, now a Doctor of Law living in the UK. Stunning cinematography and evocative music underscore the power of Mara’ana’s film, whose lyrical, emotionally charged tone is strikingly honest and straightforward. Presenting the rarely heard voice of an Arab Israeli, this important film offers valuable insight into the contradictions and complexities of modern womanhood and national identity in the Middle East.


“A superb feminist exploration of relations contextualized within internal oppression and external colonialism and estrangement…”

Nahlia Abdo Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University

“Recommended…provides much insight into the lives of Palestinians.”

Debra Mandel Educational Media Reviews Online

“A moving and sometimes humorous record of the travails and joys of women’s struggles to redefine the meaning of belonging in a traditional society, in a security state, in a global world.”

Jami Khader, PhD Stetson University

“Sensitive and complex…a gem of third wave feminism.”

Dorit Naaman Queens University


  • DocAviv Int'l Documentary Film Festival, Best Debut Documentary and Best Cinematography
  • Int'l Spring Doc Festival, Best Script award for Co-productions, First-Creation Photography Award
  • Women's Festival in Rehovot, Documentary Award
  • London Human Rights Film Festival


Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana

Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana, a Palestinian Israeli citizen, was born in Paradise in 1975. She studied cinema the school of film and television at the Jewish-Arab academic center of Givat Haviva and has since directed a number of documentaries focused on the women of her native land. Mara’ana began her career directing a number of reports for the programs "Feminine Outlook" and "Arabeska," on Israel's Channel One, and assistant directing films with Simon Bitton, Ram Levi and Duki Dror. Her first film, Paradise Lost, is a documentary about Paradise, her hometown, a small fishing village. Other works by Mara’ana include Wake Up to the Native Land, a film about unrecognized Palestinian villages inside Israel which aired on Israel’s Channel Two and 3 Times Divorced, about a Palestinian woman’s abuse at the hand of her Arab-Israeli husband.
Mara’ana’s most recent film, Lady Kul el-Arab, tells the story of Duah Fares, the first Druze woman to participate in the Lady Kul el-Arab beauty pageant for Arab women. Guided by fashion designer Jack Yaakob, Duah even takes part in the more prestigious Miss Israel contest and works towards an appearance at the Miss Universe Pageant and an international career despite death threats from those in her strictly conservative Druze community. Lady Kul el-Arab was shown at the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival and is set to show at the 2009 International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam. (08/09)


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