R21 aka Restoring Solidarity
Official competition                   

R21 aka Restoring Solidarity

Mohanad Yaqubi

The Reel no. 21 or R21, comes as an addition to and a reflection on a collection of 20 16mm films, safeguarded in Tokyo by the Japanese solidarity movement with Palestine. It’s an undelivered solidarity letter written by a Japanese activist that was lost on its way to a Palestinian filmmaker. Fragments of the letter are found throughout the collection and compiled into an imagined structure that reveals itself during the film.

R21 aka Restoring Solidarity acts as a catalog, the film as a time machine, the film as an archive. The themes that Reel no. 21 deals with, reveal themselves in the form of a montage essay. At the same time, the act of restoring these films brings out motives, aspirations, and the disappearance of a generation and its struggles, not only in Japan, but around the world.


«According to Achille Mbembe, the status and power of the “archive” derives from the intertwining of building and documents. In the case of Palestine, the archive as a building does not exist, as it is under occupation and Palestinians’ documents are scattered all over the world. Therefore, when we argue that this film is an archive, we suggest its narrative structure as a “building” that contains a collection of films, of documents.
From this perspective, the film serves as an inventory of the 20 reels: all filmographic information is found in the credits, and visitors to the archive are invited to observe recurring film and political patterns. The chronological order of the film invites the viewer to independent readings, while the narration helps explore the motivations of the Japanese group.»

— Mohanad Yaqubi



Palestine, Japan







Origin of archival materials

Palestine and Japan, 1979 directed by T. Maki, Produced by Visual Press Japan Beyond the War, 1977 directed by Samir R. Hissen, original title “Aftermath” (1967), Produced by UNRWA, Japanese version produced by Iwanami Films Kuneitra: Death of a City, 1974 directed by Jim Cranmer, produced by the American Peace Committee The Game, 1973 directed by Shirak, produced by the General Establishment of Broadcast, Ministry of Information, Iraq Palestine: The Path to Tragedy, 1970 directed by Don Catchlove, produced by Icon Films Scenes of the Occupation from Gaza, 1973 directed by Mustafa Abu Ali, Produced by the Palestine Cinema Group The Urgent Call, 1972 directed by Ismail Shammout, produced by Cultural Arts Section، Unified Media, PLO Kufr Shuba, 1975 directed by Samir Nimr, produced by Palestine Cinema Institute، Unified Media, PLO Cowboy, 1973 directed by Sami Al-Salamoni, produced by Nefertari Films War in Lebanon, 1976 directed by Bakr Sharqawi, produced by Palestine Cinema Institute، Unified Media, PLO Land Day, 1983 Original film directed by Ghaleb Shaath (1978), produced by SAMED, PLO Japanese version produced by Labor Film Company Why?, 1982 directed by Monica Maurer, produced by Palestine Cinema Institute, Unified Media, PLO Beirut 82, 1982 directed by Ryuichi Hirokawa, produced by Nunokawa Productions Lebanon 1982: UNRWA Emergency Operation, 1982 produced by UNRWA Blown by the Wind, 1969 directed by Jacques Madvo, produced by Iwanami Films The Road to a Palestinian State (Oversees Reporting: Middle East Today | Episode 1), 1974 produced by NHK (Japanese Broadcasting Corporation) The Stage of Hope, 1969 directed by Khaled Siddik, produced by Kuwait Television Temptation to Return, 1966 directed by Victor Haddad, produced by Cinema and Theatre Service, Ministry of Culture– Iraq The Field, 1977 directed by Sabih Al-Zoohir, production of The State Establishment for Cinema and Theatre - Iraq Welcome to Jordan, 1964 directed by Tom Hollyman, produced by United States Productions, Inc.


Rami El Nihawi, Mohanad Yaqubi, Lisa Spilliaert


Rami El Nihawi


Idioms Film


Raf Enckels

Director’s biography

Mohanad Yaqubi is a filmmaker, producer, and one of the founders of the production company, Idioms Film, and of the research and curatorial collective Subversive Films that focuses on militant film practices, also, a founding member of the Palestine Film Institute. He is a resident researcher at The School of the Art (KASK) in Gent, Belgium since 2017.

Yaqubi’s first feature film Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory (2016) made its premiere at TIFF, Berlinale, Cinéma du réel, Dubai IFF, and Yamagata.