Forbidden to Wander

Susan Youssef

2004 | 00:35:00 | Palestinian Territories / United States | English | B&W and Color | Mono |

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Autobiography, Crime or Violence, Documentary, Expedition/Travel, Film or Videomaking, Middle East, Politics

Forbidden to Wander chronicles the experiences of a 25-year-old Arab American Christian woman traveling on her own in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the summer of 2002. The film is a reflection on the complexity of Palestinian existence and the torturously disturbing “ordinariness” of living under constant curfew. The film’s title reflects this, as the Arabic words used to describe the imposed curfew “mane’ tajawwul” literally translate as “forbidden to wander”. The video is also the journey of personal discovery for the filmmaker, the wanderer who falls in love with a Palestinian man in Gaza.

At a historical moment when the American media, both for and against the Israeli occupation, regularly reduces Palestinian experiences to images of children throwing rocks at armed soldiers, Forbidden to Wander provides an opportunity for audiences to see Palestinians as three-dimensional human beings with interests and dreams that exceed, but are also compromised by, the conditions in which they live. Take Wassim, a Palestinian teenager living in Bethlehem who is into kickboxing and is a huge fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Wassim discusses the difficulty of seeing Van Damme films now that the local theater has been destroyed and recounts his disappointment and frustration at not being able to travel to Jerusalem to see Van Damme attend the world premiere of his latest film. Against the simplified depictions of a life dominated by violence, Forbidden to Wander shows the many seemingly mundane forms that oppression takes and the conditions that “normalize” hatred and mistrust as well as create the tragic explosions of violence that often serve as a starting (and ending) point for Western media coverage.

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Exhibitions + Festivals

Rio de Janiero, Curta Cinema, 2004

Athens Int'l Film/Video Festival (OH), 2005


Stream Single Title

Title Awards Image Major Exhibitions/Festivals Description
Sea in the Blood

Equal First Prize for Best Male Short, Inside Out, Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Sea in the Blood

OutFest (LA, CA.), 2001

Rotterdam International Film Festival (The Netherlands), 2001


Athens Int'l Film/Video Festival (OH), 2001



Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return. The narrative of love and loss is set against a background of colonialism in the Caribbean and the reverberations of migration and political change.

"Sea in the Blood was to be a meditation on race, sexuality and disease, but after working with the material for three years, it was the emotional story that came through. It's hard to work with such personal material, but in the end the work takes on a life of its own. 'Richard' is a character. Because of the subject matter — disease and death — I wanted to avoid sentimentality. I'd like the audience to think as well as feel."

— Richard Fung