The Palestinian Film Festival
Beirut – Somaya Sebaei
The Palestinian Film Festival's 15th session will be held this year from April 20 to May 3 in several institutions in London, including the Barbican Centre and University College London
. The activities will comprise a diverse programme, spotlighting 100 years of Palestinian cinema.
The festival, which is part of the Palestinian Film Foundation, is held annually in London since 1998. It shows films and discusses art and cinema. Nevertheless, it does not shy away from issues such as politics, human rights, living conditions, migration, and deprivation, even highlighting them in the films that it shows.
There will also be time for showcasing archival films, which will include recorded footage of important events such as the march of the British commander Allenby to Jerusalem in 1917, the uprisings of 1930, a film produced in 1974 which was previously banned in Israel, as well as the film “Promised Land” written by the prestigious American writer Susan Sontag, in which she focuses on Palestinian visual culture.
The film Gaza Hospital uses photos that have not been shown since the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982. In addition, the film "My Father From Haifa", tells the personal story of Danish director of Palestinian descent Omar Shargawi, showcasing the return of his father to Haifa after 60 years in exile.
Nick Dennis, co-director of the festival, pointed out the relationship between film and Palestinian history, as well as the phenomenal international growth of Palestinian cinema, saying: “The festival includes films from 17 countries. The relationship of cinema with the Palestinian cause goes back more than a century.”
A film named "Man Without a Cell Phone" has been chosen to be the opening feature, thanks to its focus on cinema quality.
Some films verve away from direct politics and tend to be dramatic stories with political messages, such as "Last Days in Jerusalem" directed by Tawfik Abu Wael. Other participating films are of experimental cinema such as the film "Lacan Palestine", which is directed by the Canadian director Mike Hoolboom, in addition to other shorter films by new names alongside established heavywights in Palestinian cinema.
The festival will amongst other things address issues such as the Druze sect, women and sports on the occasion of the Olympic Games taking place in London this year. Almost all the films shown will be followed by discussions with filmmakers and experts in the respective subjects of the films.
Many specialists of Palestinian cinema see that there is a necessity for films to highlight the history of Palestine and Palestinians, and display photos of the country before the Israeli occupation.