Although not a violent story, “Salt of This Sea” is a cinematic paean to Palestinian steadfastness in the face of Israel’s power. This is a nice way of saying that it presents an uncompromising point of view that extols a Palestinian right of return to what is now Israel and graphically depicts both historic and current Palestinian hardships as totally the fault of Israel.
We can’t help but sympathize with Soraya, the appealing central character, and to feel sorrow and even outrage at what Palestinians experience under occupation, but characters who speak of the need to accept a two-state solution are viewed as weak and vaguely corrupt stooges of Israel. One sees none of the energy and optimism that I saw in Ramallah in March. This is from Mike Hale’s brief review in the NY Times:
Annemarie Jacir’s drama “Salt of This Sea,” about a Brooklyn woman who travels to the West Bank and Israel to recover her roots — not to mention her Palestinian grandfather’s house and bank account, lost in the 1948 war — is a sad and engrossing look at a haunted landscape. Soraya (Suheir Hammad) and the two Palestinian men she befriends, Emad (Saleh Bakri) and Marwan (Riyad Ideis), spend much of the film negotiating both physical barriers — walls, fences, checkpoints, holding cells — and ritual humiliations to move about the rocky, scrubby country in which Emad and Marwan are trapped.
… it’s marred by a didactic approach to the questions it raises about history and human rights…. [T]he most vexing of Soraya’s challenges, as it turns out, is coming face to face with a liberal Jewish peacenik [with whom she cannot find common ground].