Directed by Kasim Abid • Documentary • 1999 • 52 minutes
'During the 30 years since I started drawing, I feel I have been through every Arab prison and I ask myself: What is there to come after all this? I was prepared to die defending just one drawing, because every drawing is like a drop of water which makes its way through the minds of people.'-Naji Al Ali Throughout history artists have faced the threat of violence when their work offended the state or the political elite. The late Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali produced thousands of cartoons satirizing the powers that be in the Middle East, and paid the ultimate price for his 'offensive' expression. On July 22, 1987 he was shot in the face, at point blank range, as he left the London offices of the Al Qabbas newspaper. He died after laying in a coma for 5 weeks. Emerging from humble beginnings in the refugee camps, for over 30 years he was an uncompromising critic of a regressive Arab political culture and of Western intervention in Arab affairs. Interviews with leading Arab journalists and poets, former jail mates, his wife and others give us insight to his unrelenting commitment to his people, and into his subtly satirical cartoons that stirred the hearts of millions of refugees. NAJI AL-ALI, AN ARTIST WITH VISION examines the forces that shaped Naji as an artist, as a human being, and shows how his experiences mirror those of other exiled Palestinians. Known as the Palestinian Malcolm X, Naji is still the most popular artist in the Arab world, loved for his defense of the ordinary people, and for his criticism of repression and despotism. Paradoxically, strict censorship and widespread illiteracy in the Arab world helped Naji to achieve his remarkable success. His unrelenting cartoons exposed the brutality of the Israeli army and the hypocrisy of the PLO, earning...