AN UNUSUAL SUMMER (2020): Block Museum - Northwestern University
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A black-and-white surveillance image of a people in a parking lot
Still from AN UNUSUAL SUMMER (2020)
7 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Wed February 28, 2024
7 PM


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public



(Kamal Aljafari, 2020, English and Arabic with English subtitles, 80 min, digital)


The opening titles of the archival documentary AN UNUSUAL SUMMER (2020) portend a real-life, low-res, found-footage whodunit: “Someone broke the window of my father’s car three times. To find out who was breaking the window, my father installed a surveillance camera.” With this premise, Palestinian filmmaker Kamal Aljafari intrigues viewers to pore over his father’s grainy surveillance tapes, which capture life ca. 2006 in the Arab neighborhood of Ramle, a mixed Palestinian-Jewish city in what today is the Central District of Israel. 

Through deft editing, evocative sound design, and poetic use of text, Aljafari gradually exposes not the culprit, but rather the unique and multifaceted texture of Palestinian community. Filmmaker and writer Nada El-Omari describes how Aljafari’s film exemplifies a practice of looking carefully: “In grace, in accident, in parcels, in smile, in memory and in the absurdity of the everyday, AN UNUSUAL SUMMER demands that you take a moment to look at the people, to look at the bodies, to look at the humans, souls and experiences that take place every moment of a day, every second of a life.” 

AN UNUSUAL SUMMER is presented as an “open classroom” screening for “Art of the Real: A History of Documentary,” taught by Michael Metzger, Block Museum Curator of Cinema and Media Arts.


With gratitude to Laiba Paracha (doctoral student, Comparative Literary Studies and Asian Languages and Cultures) and Domietta Torlasco (Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature). 

AN UNUSUAL SUMMER is part of Block Cinema's Winter 2024 series, "Looking Carefully: New Observational Documentary,"  which brings together contemporary works of nonfiction cinema that depict, and enact, forms of care. 

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at