Borrowing its title from the author's 2000 memoir, OUT OF PLACE traces the life and work of Edward Said (1935-2003), the Palestinian-born intellectual who wrote widely on history, literature, music, philosophy and politics. Filmed in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and the U.S., this feature-length documentary traces Said's childhood influences and celebrates his intellectual legacy, especially the importance of his work in literary criticism and postcolonial studies, his love of music, his role on the Palestinian National Council and his troubled relationship with Yasir Arafat.
Visiting the sites of his birthplace in Jerusalem, his boyhood homes in Lebanon and Cairo, and his New York City apartment, OUT OF PLACE explores Said's status as a refugee, his sense of always feeling "out of place"—personally, geographically and linguistically—a theme he developed in his memoir, explaining how everyone, in a sense, is comprised of "multiple identities."
OUT OF PLACE imaginatively blends readings from Said's memoir and other key writings, family home movies dating back to 1947, and interviews with Arab, Israeli and American thinkers, including many of Said's colleagues, family and friends, who offer personal reminiscences as well as statements on the importance of his work. Among the notable educators, historians, novelists, politicians, and artists who appear in the film are Ilan Pappe, Elias Khoury, Azmi Bishara, Daniel Barenboim, Rashid Khalidi, Michel Warschawski, Noam Chomsky and Dan Rabinowitz, among many others.
The themes of reconciliation and coexistence that Said fought for throughout his life are further illuminated by a visit with a Palestinian family in a refugee camp in Syria and a family of Mizrahim (Arabic Jews) in Israel, a memorial conference held at Bir Zeit University on the West Bank, and scenes at other sites in Israel and the West Bank. OUT OF PLACE is thus both a fascinating biographical film on one of the most acclaimed cultural critics of the postwar world as well as an engaging examination of many of the cultural and political issues to which he devoted his life.
"A beautifully made film...a moving tribute to Edward Said's life." —Leonardo Digital Reviews
"Fascinating! Allows the audience to see the concrete realization of abstract ideas about Israeli and Palestinian identity." —The Jewish Week
"Sufficiently thought provoking and compelling that it not only comprises a striking contemplation of Said's legacy, it may even come to comprise a small part thereof...powerful...highly recommended." —Educational Media Reviews Online
"Profound. The outreaching experiences of an extraordinary life." —Slant Magazine
"The serene, beautiful camera presses ever on through the landscape of Edward Said's absence. The many folds of the pain of Palestine and Israel are illumined. Said cuts across people's vibrant memories. And Said's hopes appear above us." —OE Kenzaburo, Nobel Prize Winner for Literature
"A bold and innovative film... The success of the film is due to the fact that Sato is not content to give us a standardized biography of Said, but wishes to engage with, challenge and test Said's ideas in the real-world." —Jonathan Hogg, H-Ideas