Tribute to a radical

Talk about exposure.

Yesterday, I brought (correction: ‘dragged’) my 17 yr-old niece to watch a 4.5 hours documentary on the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Singapore Film Festival. My husband made me. It will ‘widen her horizon’, he said.

That docu, filmed by Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan (a Palestinian and an Israeli) is still one of the most gripping, raw and *unplugged* documentary I have ever seen. It was my second time watching it, the first being at the DOXA Film Festival in Vancouver last year. I marvelled at how I can put myself through watching it again, and still shed a tear or two during the same scenes! It cannot be two PMSs occuring at the exact same time 2 years in a row, can it?!

But it is not about me today. It is about my niece, and of course, my husband. My hubs is someone who fervently believes in exposing young minds, not constraining their potentials and never, don’t you dare – decide on what the young ones can achieve when you have no idea what his/her rezeki will be. I have seen how he applies the same principle on his 15 yr-old sister, and now, to my niece too.

I was very hesitant on bringing my teenage niece to watch the docu – it was back-breaking long, no frills,no banjo music ala Michael Moore’s and on top of it – the subject matter is about the impact of politics on the common man. It is not about 911, MacDonalds or the pop culture.

Route 181, that’s the title of the docu, was full of history, bitterness, soundbites too honest and painful to hear and tonnes of reality check on us ‘isolated’ Singaporeans. Could a 17 year-old take it? Would it be an interesting watch for her at all? In her life right now – boys, iPod minis, friendships and exams take centrestage. Who cares about the Middle East?!

True enough, she was bored. At some point during the docu she was busy SMSing too, and fell asleep during some parts. The Double Decker Snek Udang I brought kept her awake for the duration it took for her to finish the packet, and I am sure after that her mind drifted again.

At the end of the show I asked her if she liked it. Of course her answer was no. At that precise moment, I was so tempted to make a long-distance call to my husband to gloat and say ‘See! I told you these young kids won’t like docus! It does nothing to ‘widen her horizon!’- but something in me stopped myself.

I realised, that many of the wisdom I acquire now is because of the things I was exposed to when I was her age. It was during my teens that my worldview was shaped, my adult life was just a reinforcement of THAT worlview. Or debunking it, depending on the outcome. She may not know NOW why she spent 4.5 hours of her precious life watching how deep-seated the conflict between the Palestinians and Jews is, but the images, the soundbites and the characters interviewed will be remembered when she is older and when she has to make sense of the world around her, the Middle East to be exact. Who knows she will be a journalist, or an academic, or a diplomat – and boy would this docu come in handy!

So thanks hubs for the push to widen my niece’s horizon. And many of the young ones in our lives too. For that, this post is a tribute to you – you won this debate hands down.

Now, can I get that iPOd mini soon? 😉


  1. thanks sc. Its either that or she will be traumatised for life and not want to watch documentaries any more! Heheheh…

  2. heyy…i started late myself. but you can’t blame me. all my life i’ve been told i must ACT like this, i MUST have this or that, i must Look like that, i must WEAR that.. i mean..with all these pressure and expectations upon my head, who have time to be bothered with documentaries? get real! 😉 im just glad im sooo out of those things now…phewwww…its so hard to admit these days that im no longer in posession of a cool Levis 501… but hey, suddenly the world seems bigger!

  3. is this available in vcd/dvd format? tink hubby would enjoy this…but no..not me. and im like slightly more than a 1/4 of a century

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