Mayor (2020)

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This is a beautifully-made documentary that carries us close beside the mayor of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Musa Hadid, as he goes about his day, dealing with everything from fountains to Israeli aggression.

Being a mayor would never be an easy gig. You are the face of the local government and equally responsible for city governance as for taking the time to chat to every constituent. Musa Hadid is a popular mayor, judging by the number of people who stop him in the street for a greeting or a photograph or to cook him lunch. He is driven around so that he can see where the problems are in his small city, putting out fires, sometimes literally, and being the person you can come to with your problems.

His problems, of course, are unique and never-ending as Ramallah sits in the middle of the occupied territory of Palestine. It is the de facto administrative centre as Jerusalem, its capital, is a city that three religions and the state of Israel lay claim to. Donald Trump stirs up trouble when he blithely promises to establish the US Embassy for Israel in Jerusalem, something that provokes protests on the street as well as increased aggression from Israeli soldiers, emboldened by US support.

Director David Osit keeps the camera close and unobtrusive so that it seems those being filmed have become unaware of it. We get the quiet moments in Hadid’s house where his kids make fun of photos of him when he was younger and also the escalating tension as Israeli soldiers firing guns storm the restaurant opposite City Hall and masked protesters hurl rocks. You get a real sense of both the precariousness of life for Palestinians as well as their powerlessness to live normal lives. It feels like the long, slow genocide of a nation.

The ending is in many ways anti-climactic but, oddly, it brought me to tears.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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