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A Magical Substance Flows Into Me

Jumana Manna
Palestine 2015 / 68’
best film award

Do your parents accept what you are doing? a Kurdish Jew asks a young documentary filmmaker of Palestinian origin. In Israel, even music, the magical substance of the title, is political and can be a controversial subject. In her film, artist Jumana Manna follows in the footsteps of Robert Lachmann. After leaving Nazi Germany in the 1930s, this respected musicologist of German-Jewish origin hosted a radio show in Jerusalem that presented music from Palestinian territory. Manna decided to meet with representatives of the communities whose folk compositions were preserved in recordings from 80 years earlier. She visits them in their homes and at places of worship, looking for points of contact with the past. Their diverse, nearly forgotten legacy cannot, however, escape politics or the specter of the Israeli-Arab conflict. But nothing is clear-cut here. Bedouins expelled from their settlements do not even recognize the old songs, and they prefer watching television to playing the traditional rebab. In turn, singer Neta Elkayam, a descendant of Jews from Morocco, is happy that her family has not renounced its culture, which is full of Arab traditions. Manna, whose film was also a personal journey, shows that the richness of music can overcome simple distinctions between what is considered Arab and what is considered Jewish.

Mariusz Mikliński

Jumana Manna

Born in New Jersey in 1987, Jumana Manna is a director and artist of Palestinian origin. She studied at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, as well as at academies of fine arts in Oslo and Jerusalem. She currently lives in Berlin. Her documentary A Magical Substance Flows Into Me, which premiered in the Forum section at the recent Berlin Film Festival, is her first full-length feature.


2013 The Goodness Regime (short, doc.)

2015 Magiczna substancja we mnie / A Magical Substance Flows Into Me (doc.)

Cast & Crew

director Jumana Manna
screenplay Jumana Manna
cinematography Daniel Kedem
editing Jumana Manna, Katrin Ebersohn
producer Jumana Manna
sales Jumana Manna
language Arabic, Hebrew, English
colouration colour