R21 aka Restoring Solidarity

A vanished generation and its struggles, restored and archived through a film catalog

R21 aka Restoring Solidarity Documenting an overlooked movement of anti-imperialism between Japan and Palestine, the Tokyo Reels are collection of 20 16mm films. They were safeguarded in Tokyo by the Japanese solidarity movement with Palestine between the 1960s and 1980s. Into this stunning archive comes a reflection on the movement, known as Reel 21 – an undelivered solidarity letter written by a Japanese activist that was lost on its way to a Palestinian filmmaker. Fragments of the letter are found throughout the collection and compiled into an imagined structure that reveals itself during this powerful, meditative film.

R 21 AKA Restoring Solidarity (2022) on IMDb

Festivals and Awards

LaurelJerusalem International Film Festival | Olive d'Or Winner
LaurelIDFA | World Premiere
LaurelMarrakech Film Festival | African Premiere
LaurelTrue/False Film Festival | North American Premiere
LaurelTokyo Reels Film Festival | Official Selection
LaurelKarama Human Rights Film Festival | Official Selection
LaurelToronto Palestine Film Festival | Official Selection


A militant archiving process” – Filmmaker Magazine

A very interesting experimental film that has both artistic and archival value” – Asian Movie Pulse

Video is and was a powerful way of keeping memories alive but also of expressing solidarity” – Windows on Worlds

The documentary functions as a living archive” – Reverse Shot

The Producers

Mohanad Yaqubi - Director

Mohanad Yaqubi is a filmmaker, producer, and one of the founders of the Ramallah-based production house, Idioms Film. Yaqubi is one of the founders of the research and curatorial collective Subversive Films that focuses on militant film practices, also, a founding member of the Palestine Film Institute, that focus on supporting, promoting, and preserving Palestinian cinema. He is a resident researcher at The School of the Art (KASK) in Gent, Belgium since 2017.

Yaqubi's first feature film Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory (2016) made its premiere at TIFF, Berlindale, Cinéma du réel, Dubai IFF, and Yamagatea among fifty other premiers and screenings around the world.

Making The Film

Directors' Statement
The word "archive" is usually referred to as a building that holds documents, and according to Achille Mbembe, this "archive" status and power is derived from this entanglement of building and documents. In the Palestinian case, the building of an archive does not exist, since the land of Palestine is under occupation, and the documents of the Palestinians are scattered all around the globe. So, when we say that this film is an archive, we suggest its narrative structure as a "building" that holds a collection of films, of documents.

The film serves as an inventory of the 20 reels, one where all the filmographic information can be found in the credits, and where the archive's visitors are invited to observe the reoccurring cinematic and political patterns within. The film's chronological order invites independent readings by the viewer, while the narration helps to explore the motives of the Palestine solidarity group.

The film is a homage to the Japanese solidarity group that collected and screened these films around Japan, in classes, in political settings, touring cinemas, and community centers. It is also a thank you letter, from Palestinian filmmakers to their Japanese counterparts, for keeping these films safe, and for telling a story of people's struggle imprinted not only on celluloid, but on the consciousness of a generation.

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