Looted and Hidden unravels the fate of the Palestinian film archives that were looted throughout the 20th century. Based entirely on archival materials, long-term research, and in-depth interviews with key figures the film raises questions about archival institutions in areas of conflict and points, as in detective work, to the need to dig into the invisible and hidden in order to reveal what has been erased or rewritten.
Dr. Rona Sela is a curator, researcher of visual history and culture, and lecturer at Tel Aviv University. Since 1996 she has researched the history of colonial Zionist/Israeli photography and archives, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, human rights violations and colonial looting and plunder (Sela 2000, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017). She examines how the visual field of Zionist and Israeli colonialism, as one component in a huge mechanism, has been exploited and used for political and ideological objectives since the beginning of the 20th century. Sela exposes the various means of force used by Israel to seize/loot Palestinian archives/treasurers, the way Israeli national/colonial archives have become a large reservoir of knowledge and information about the Palestinians, and Israel's control over knowledge and the writing of history. In her work, she raises questions about the role of archives, archivists and researchers in colonial regions and zones of conflict.