Cinema Palestina 7

Cinema Palestina (e)
'East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem'

Director: Henrique Cymerman & Erez Miller 2014 80 minutes Documentary.
Legendary singer/guitarist David Broza journeys to East Jerusalem to record his latest album with Israeli, Palestinian, and American musicians. Broza hopes that bridging cultures through music can be one small step toward peaceful coexistence. The film weaves together soulful music and personal conversations of hope in a time and a place where hope is most needed.

Easy, easy

Riyad Deis

Set in rural Palestine in 1939 at the close of the Palestinian revolt against the British Mandate, Easy, Easy follows a Palestinian farmer and his family whose traditional rural lives are turned upside down when a Palestinian resistance fighter decides to hide in their small farm home, bringing revolutionary ideas into the family and challenging their traditional way of life. Starring emerging talent Saleh Bakri and some of the brightest new production talent working in Palestine, this is an allegorical tale which leaves much to the imagination and suggests a promising talent in director Riyad Deis.

Echoes of Beit Hanoon

Wael Alsousi, docu 5 min, 2015 Gaza

A short film about the experience of living through the continuous Israeli attacks on Gaza in the summer of 2014 and witnessing the aftermath.

Edward Said: the last interview

Mike Dibb

Edward Said, professor of Literature at Columbia University and one of the most important cultural critics of the late 20th century, was for decades one of the most articulate and principled advocates of the Palestinian struggle. His critical academic writing, voluminous political commentary, and passionate defence of the rights of all oppressed peoples, marked Said out as one of the 20th century’s foremost public intellectuals and humanists. Suffering from terminal leukemia since the early 1990s, Said gradually reduced his public appearances and declined to give interviews in the final years of his life. He made one exception in agreeing to speak in 2002 with Charles Glass, renowned investigative journalist, broadcaster, and Middle East analyst. Directed by Mike Dibb (Ways of Seeing with John Berger), The Last Interview is a captivating portrait of Said, who speaks about his political, personal, and scholarly life frankly and in depth.

Edward Said in conversation


A treasure from London’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) archives, this video documents the late Edward Said’s 1986 talk at the ICA, chaired by Salman Rushdie. Poised historically between the horrors of the 1982 Lebanon war and the imminent outbreak of the Palestinian Intifada (1987), the talk sees Said in wonderful form as he recalls anecdotes:serious, light hearted, political, and personal and reads passages from his thennew book, After The Last Sky: Palestinian Lives. Sadly no longer available for purchase and preserved only as a VHS recording (digitised especially for this event), this is a rare glimpse of Said at his erudite and quickwitted best.


Saaheb Collective

Eid is a Palestinian Bedouin from the village of Um el Kheir who boasts a gift for transforming scrap materials into art. Using found materials he makes miniature models of the machinery of occupation, including bulldozers and helicopters. This short playfully uses stopmotion animation and interviews to revel in Eid’s creative process.

Elvis of Nazareth

Rani Massalha

Elvis of Nazareth is a short drama telling the tale of Hamoudy, a street boy from Nazareth who meets Khalil, an elderly singer and Elvis fan. Hamoudy is fascinated by Khalil, following him around town as the older man recounts tales of his friendship with Elvis, and even how “the King” stole songs from him. After Khalil claims his oud is in fact “the oud of Elvis”, Hamoudy steals the instrument in an attempt to sell it, a step that sorely tests his friendship with Khalil, and which risks exposing the tales he’s come to believe.

The Embroidery

by Salsabeel Abdelhamid, docu (film & animatie) docu 2 min. Palestine 2017

An exploration of the filmmaker’s story intertwined with her grandmother’s, where a single cross-stitch represents their intersection.

Emwas: Restoring Memories

by Dima Abu Ghoush, docu 52 min, Palestine 2016. V

On June 6th 1967, the Israeli army forcibly evacuated and razed three Palestinian villages outside Jerusalem along the Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank.  Emwas: Restoring Memories tells the poignant story of filmmaker Dima Abu Ghoush’s efforts to rebuild a scale model of the village she left as an infant decades later, based on the memories of her mother and other former residents.
Producer: Humanserve International

Encounter with a Lost Land

Maryse Gargour 2013 | Documentary | 62 min
Through an artful montage of personal correspondences, diplomatic archives, consular correspondences, audiovisual archives, newspapers, and interviews with the children of Western diplomats who lived in Jaffa, Palestine at the time, filmmaker Maryse Gargour takes us on an encounter with a lost land – Palestine from 1928 up to 1952 and beyond. The first-hand testimonies of life before, during, and after the 1948 Nakba powerfully recreate everyday life in the urban center of Jaffa at a fateful time in Palestinian history. A tour de force.

End of september

Liana Badr

Like an unknowing soul wandering purgatory, Dalal journeys between time periods and across planes of reality, never able to trust what constitutes the “truth” in her many encounters. In their elegant magic realist drama, Sama Alshaibi and Ala’ Younis imagine Dalal, a Palestinian fedai (fighter) returning to her liberated homeland where she faces a series of mysterious occurrences that leave her questioning not just where, but also when, she has arrived. End of September is shown at the 2012 London Palestine Film Festival courtesy of the artists and Selma Feriani Gallery, London.

Ejteyah (Invasion)
13 days in Jenin camp

Nizar Hassan,  Fiction   Lebanon/Palestine  2003  60 min.

About the battle of camp Jenin during the second Intifadah.
Trailers: (1 min.) (4 min.)  (15 min.)


Ghasoub Aleddin

Three interlocking minitales, expressed by the simple use of a ‘pointofview’ camera. Escape received a special mention at the 2004 Ramallah International Film Festival.

Escapees to the Ganges

by Tahseen Muhaisen, docu 53 min. Palestine/Norway 2016

In Vasani Kunj, a poor suburb of New Delhi, live five Palestinian families that were forced to flee Iraq during the American war. Tahseen Muhaisen, himself a Palestinian, decides to travel from Oslo to New Delhi to document their story. Escapees to the Ganges is a story of diaspora in diaspora, rootlessness and human vulnerability, but also about family love and strong human ties, overcoming nation’s borders

Tahseen Muhaisen is a Norwegian / Palestinian filmmaker. He has directed about 14 short films, documentaries and experimental films, many of which aired on national Norwegian television.


by Jakob Valdemar Mørk docu 7 min. 2017. English with English subtitles

Producers: Jakob Valdemar Mørk, Donia Nader and support Filmlab
By observing Palestinian poet Ahmed Yacoub who has ended in a limbo-like everyday, stuck in Ramallah, the film is studying the way a life is influenced by occupation and family separation.

Even Though My Land is Burning

by Dror Dayan (ook camera en editing) Duitsland 2016, docu 76 minuten.

The docu tells the story of Israeli-Jewish anti-Zionist activists and their role in the Palestinian popular struggle against the occupation and confiscation of land today, through a cinematic snapshot of one such activist ́s involvement in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

Ben, an Israeli Jew, has been actively supporting the Palestinian popular struggle against the occupation for ten years. He has experienced injuries, arrests, abuse and the death of close friends. For years he has been taking part in demonstrations, actions and protests, fighting alongside Palestinians against their oppression by the state in which he is a citizen. But the current wave of unarmed popular struggle, which began with the building of the separation wall, has since shrunk substantially. The wall is mostly built, the settlements are a fact, the occupation is stronger than ever. At a time when the vast majority of Israelis support their government ́s racist policies, Ben keeps on going. In the last five years he has found himself a political home away from home – the small village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, where a local group of activists continues to resist the stealing of their land and water by the settlement across the valley. With this small community Ben continues to participate in the demonstrations Friday after Friday; continues to believe that co-resistance leads to coexistence and that life together would be possible if one would only, as the activists of the village say, remove the occupation from their head.

Everywhere was the same

Basma al Sharif

Slideshow images of abandoned homes and emptiedout public spaces carry the story of two girls who find themselves in a kind of preapocalyptic paradise. Inspired by a massacre that took place in Gaza during July 2006, Everywhere was the Same retells this event through the many voices that have come to speak of Palestinians and their struggle. Most importantly, a speech by Dr. Haidar AbdelShafi at the Madrid peace talks emerges as a voice of reason silenced in the film by unresolved, melancholic nostalgia. AlSharif’s art work is composed of the sounds of clicking slides, extracts from a AbdelShafi’s speech, a heartwrenching song by Fairuz, still images of abandoned houses, cities emptied of their original inhabitants, and a beautifully embroidered Palestinian gown.


Director: Mahdi Fleifel 2013 docu 12 min.
In 2010, Abu Eyad and other young Palestinian men from the Ain el-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon travelled with smugglers through Syria and Turkey into Greece. Like so many other migrants, they came looking for a way into Europe but found themselves trapped in a country undergoing economic, political and social change.
Xenos is a short documentary blending footage shot on visits to Athens in 2011 with phone conversations recorded during Abu Eyad’s time there. It tells his day-to-day struggle for survival an enduring sense of exile in a land of hope that has become a nightmare.
Language: Arabic (with English subtitles)
Genre: Short
Trailer:  Though I Know the River is Dry


Mohanad Yaqubi

Exit is a collaboration between Palestinian filmmaker Mohanad Yaqubi and French choreographer Jean Gaudin. Taking the London Underground as its location, the piece traverses genres – appearing part sitespecific dance performance, part atmospheric architectural exploration, and part video art. Featuring stunning cinematography and an awardwinning original score, Exit arrives at an accomplished fusion of the organic and the concrete by playing on the dancer’s bodily and emotional encounter with a claustrophobia underworld of stark lines and threatening machinery.

‘Eye Drops

Mohammad Bakri / Israel, 2012,
An encounter between a holocaust survivor and an Arab actor who lives in Tel Aviv with his two sons, during the second intifada.

Eyes of a Thief

Palestinian director Najwa Najjar’s Eyes of a Thief ready for the screen
After six years and a lot of drama, Najjar is now waiting to hear where Eyes of a Thief will have its world premiere

It has been six years coming, but finally the world is going to get to see the second film from Najwa Najjar, reports Alex Ritman for The National.
Back in 2008, the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) gave this emerging Palestinian filmmaker, known at the time for a number of well-received short dramas and documentaries, the world premiere of her debut feature, Pomegranates and Myrrh.
An emotional family drama set in Ramallah with the Israeli occupation as an ever-present and disruptive backdrop, Pomegranates went on to travel the world, racking up more than 80 festival appearances, plus an impressive collection of awards. This was followed by a number of international theatrical releases and proved to be an exciting first introduction, instantly propelling Najjar into the limelight as a regional name to look out for.
Much time has passed since 2008. DIFF, then just five, will be celebrating its 11th birthday this December. The Doha Tribeca Film Festival, which gave Pomegranates the Best Arab Film award, no longer exists.
But thankfully, the long wait for the follow-up is drawing to a close.
Eyes of a Thief, a psychological drama that is set, once again, in the West Bank and begins at the height of the Palestinian uprising in 2002 before leaping to current times, wrapped up shooting last year. And with the editing now complete, the film is finally ready for audience approval.
“It’s a psychological thriller about a father with a dangerous secret searching for his daughter,” says Najjar.
At the Cannes Film Festival, the film was picking up sizeable interest from international sales agents. The film has co-producers from Algeria and Iceland and several Icelandic crew members were in Palestine for the 25-day shoot.
“We shot mostly in Nablus and every single night there were incursions from the Israelis,” says Najjar, highlighting an issue few filmmakers around the world have to deal with. “I remember that there was this gunfire and the crew from abroad asked us what was going on and we were like: ‘Oh, it’s just a wedding.’ We said it jokingly, but of course it’s a huge responsibility. You have to make sure everyone’s safe – that’s why we prepared for about a month with all the necessary factions.”
Apart from the concern of living under occupation, the most worrying situation for Najjar was actually getting her main actor, the Egyptian star Khaled Abol Naga, into the West Bank.
“It’s very hard to bring an Arab actor into the country and Khaled’s permission was eventually delayed by two weeks,” she says. “We were already in pre-production and didn’t know whether he would be able to make it. As time went on, my producer went to Khaled — who was waiting in Jordan — and said that it wasn’t looking good. He called me up and said he was still hopeful. Two days later, the permission finally came through. You should have heard the yelling and screaming from the cast and crew when we heard.”
Alongside the Icelandic crew members, Najjar included 11 Palestinian heads of department in the production. “We’re building an industry!” she exclaims. “They had no prior experience, but were like soldiers. They were willing to give their life for the movie.”
Najjar is currently waiting to hear back to see where Eyes of a Thief will have its world premiere, which is likely to happen at one of the major film festivals coming up in the next few months.
“If the situation in Palestine permits, we’re hoping to have our home opening there in August,” she says.
And while nothing has been confirmed, fans in the UAE should keep their eyes open. The film received a portion of its funding from the Dubai Film Connection, something that might well see it travel to DIFF this December.
Let’s just hope there isn’t another six-year wait before Najjar pays a visit. DIFF 17 seems like a lifetime away.
The National
Eyes of a Thief van Najwa Najjar (ook scenario), drama 98 min. Palestina 2014

The film circles around an incident in 2002 that happened in Wadi al-Haramieh (“Valley of the Thieves” in Arabic, where the film takes it name) where Thaer Hamad shot 10 Israelis to death at a checkpoint while hiding in the hills. This incident forms the purposely vague backstory of water engineer Tareq (played by Egyptian superstar Khaled Abol Naga) who after being released from jail in the West Bank 10 years later (for a separate crime) returns home to find his wife dead and his daughter sent to an orphanage in the town of Sebastia. This isolated experience, of exiting jail with no support has created a stir in Palestine. After the premiere in Ramallah last month many pointed out that there is no one there to greet Tareq on release, a fact that is completely contrary to the celebrations that are conventional in Palestine when security prisoners are released from jail. Further complaints went on to query that the film doesn’t explain how Tareq didn’t know that his wife had died, or that his only daughter no longer lives in Nablus. Upon arrival in Sebastia, Tareq befriends local businessman Adel (Suhail Haddad), and starts working on a building project that Adel has promised the locals will bring prosperity. Housed at a local seamstress’ workshop where Leila (Algerian singer-songwriter Souad Massi) is employed, Tareq starts the search for his daughter and is intrigued by the young girl Leila is looking after. Her name is Malak (Malak Ermileh) and she appears to be roughly the same age as his missing daughter. The film sets itself up as the possibility of a certain genre that wrong foots the audience up to three times. This is done in such a subtle manner that the viewer only realises later what Najjar has cleverly done. It’s not clear until close to the film’s final third that Eyes of a Thief is asking some difficult questions, questions that never leave the grey uncertainty of an ill defined reality that resounds with the effects occupation leaves on the psyche of a traitor.
The sense of spirit and humanity is best shown in the interplay between Tareq and the spirited Malak (a beautiful performance by first timer Ermileh) as their bond grows on the possibility that they may be father and daughter. Never once does Najjar fall into the trap of idealised unearned emotion, she’s far more interested in these characters as human beings and never motors towards didacticism.

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