‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging. (Supplied)
Updated 23 October 2019

‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

MUMBAI: Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven,” which was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival, is pure cinema. Like his earlier works, here too the Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, this time to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging.

He says people worldwide now live in fear amid global geopolitical tensions. Today, checkpoints are just about everywhere: In airports, shopping malls, cinemas, highways — the list is endless.




“It Must Be Heaven” was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. (Supplied) 

Suleiman’s earlier features, such as “Chronicle of a Disappearance” and “Divine Intervention,” showed us everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territories. This time, it is Paris and New York. 

The first scene is hilarious, with a bishop trying to enter a church with his followers. The gatekeeper on the other side of the heavy wooden door is probably too intoxicated and refuses to let the priest in, leading to a comical situation. Suleiman’s life in Nazareth is filled with such incidents — snippets that have been strung together to tell us of tension in society. Neighbors turn out to be selfish, and only generous when they know they are being watched. 




The Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. (Supplied)

In Paris, the cafes along the grand boulevards, and the young women who pass by, are typical of France’s capital. But a cut to Bastille Day, with tanks rolling by in a show of strength, jolts us back to harsh reality. In New York, Suleiman’s cab driver is excited at driving a Palestinian. 

The film has an interesting way of storytelling. The scenes begin as observational shots, but the camera quickly changes positions to show Suleiman watching from the other side of the room or a street. The camera then returns to where it first stood, and this back-and-forth movement is delightfully engaging.

The framing is so perfect, and the colors so bright and beautiful, that each scene looks magical. And as the director looks on at all this with his usual deadpan expression, a sardonic twitch at the corner of his mouth, we know all this is but illusion. There is bitter truth ahead!


George and Amal Clooney to donate $100,000 to Lebanese charities

Updated 07 August 2020

George and Amal Clooney to donate $100,000 to Lebanese charities

DUBAI: American actor George Clooney and his wife, Lebanese-British human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, are donating $100,000 to Lebanese charities helping those left homeless by the deadly explosion in Beirut.

The blast, which broke though the capital city on Aug. 4, has killed at least 137 people and injured thousands.

According to Variety, the couple said: “We’re both deeply concerned for the people of Beirut and the devastation they’ve faced in the last few days.”

“Three charitable organizations we’ve found are providing essential relief on the ground: the Lebanese Red Cross, Impact Lebanon, and Baytna Baytak. We will be donating to these three $100,000 and hope that others will help in any way they can,” they added.

Other celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, DJ Khaled, and singer Dua Lipa, have been taking to social media to show their support for victims, and online influencers around the world have been urging their followers to make donations toward rescue and recovery work.