Director: Toomas Järvet | Countries of production: Estonia | Year: 2015 | Length: 74 min
Language: Arabic with English subtitles | Age: 15+ years

Screened as part of TOAFF16

Maher is a man with a dream: to stage a contemporary dance performance in the cultural centre of his home town, Ramallah.

A former political prisoner, Maher now shuns political engagement, yet his choreography expresses a defiant stance in its own right, evoking a complex relationship between oppression, identity, community expectations and artistic practice. Despite his talent, Maher faces incomprehension and exasperation from his family, while the show is threatened by a severe lack of funds. Undeterred, Maher perseveres: “We have to change something during our lifetime. If not, what is the meaning of one’s existence?”

Filmed with remarkable restraint, Rough Stage allows Maher’s body to do most of the talking. Whether he dances alone or with others, in a barren desert or in the middle of the busiest roundabout, he embodies the need for freedom of movement and thought, and the wider struggle for free, creative expression in Palestine.

Rough Stage shows touchingly how Maher’s art expresses a stance in its own right. Dance art captivates its audience just as effectively in a barren desert as it does in the middle of the most busy traffic roundabout in the city of Ramallah.
Doc Point

IDFA, Official selection