Crayons of Askalan
For Zuhdi Al Adawi, imagination and memory became twin tools for survival in the harsh environment of Israel’s Askalan prison. He entered its gates in 1970 at age 15 and was 30 before he was released. Fiction and reality converge in this magic-realist story of how Al Adawi found solace by transforming his longing for homeland and family into gorgeous allegorical drawings made secretly during his incarceration. Hints of political solidarity are evident in the shared risks his cellmates and their families took by smuggling in crayons and smuggling out more than 70 of his drawings on pillowcases over the years. The film’s expressive camera work is imbued with the hot acrylic hues of Al Adawi’s artwork, which comes to life in seamlessly integrated animation sequences. Grounding this creative documentary is director Laila Hotait Salas’s use of relatives of the imprisoned men as actors, including one who was an ex-cellmate of Al Adawi’s. Gisèle Gordon
Screening with Bedtime Stories from the Axis of Evil.