Art, Music & Culture

Film festival drops Israel as sponsor to protest attack

Jim Quilty
21 July 2006


The organizers of the 2006 Locarno International Film Festival have dropped the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a festival sponsor because of that country’s unremitting bombardment of civilian targets in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli ministry was listed as a co-sponsor of one of the festival’s programs, called “Leopards of Tomorrow.” News of the sponsorship provoked a letter of protest from several Lebanese and Palestinian filmmakers and festival guests - who threatened to pull out of Locarno, which starts on August 2, if the links were maintained.

Reem Kelani: Telling the Palestinian narrative through song

Susannah Tarbush
11 July 2006


The debut CD of Palestinian singer Reem Kelani - “Sprinting Gazelle: Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora” - is a major contribution from this remarkable singer, musical researcher and broadcaster towards reviving and spreading Palestinian culture. In the weeks since “Sprinting Gazelle” was released in the UK it has been acclaimed by critics and journalists, and has received excellent reviews in nearly every serious British newspaper. Critics have praised the quality, range and emotional depth of Kelani’s voice.

In remembrance: Ismail Shammout, 1931-2006

Samia A. Halaby
5 July 2006


Ismail Shammout’s career as an artist and popular hero of Palestine began with his 1953 exhibition of oil paintings in Gaza of the catastrophic march through wilderness. The exhibited paintings objectify and socialize a pain that had simmered on a private level. Refugees in Gaza saw themselves reflected in Shammout’s work and felt relief. An immense attendance of the general population in Gaza, including those living in refugee camps, overwhelmed Shammout, then studying in Egypt. This stunning response to the show was a hint of the bottled up hope for liberation.

Film Review: "Kings and Extras": Digging for a Palestinian Image

Maymanah Farhat
21 June 2006


Azza El Hassan’s documentary Kings and Extras: Digging for a Palestinian Image chronicles the director’s journey on the trail of the lost PLO film archive that went missing in Beirut in 1982. Through the narratives of individuals whose interviews El Hassan feels can assist her with locating the lost archive, the film touches on several aspects of contemporary Palestinian life. The engaging documentary was featured in this year’s Chicago Palestine Film Festival, adding yet another dimension to the chronicling of Palestinian history.

Film Review: The Balata Film Collective: "Nour's Dream"

Maymanah Farhat
21 June 2006


This year at the Chicago Palestine Film Festival, the Balata Film Collective presented their thirty-one minute documentary Nour’s Dream. Through a visual journey of Palestinian history, culture, heritage and resistance the film demonstrates the imperative need for the documentation of Palestinian lives. As the fictional main character, Nour narrates the documentary by informing the viewer of the significance of stones within past and present Palestinian society.

International Benefit Concert for Palestine in London

21 June 2006


On the 29th of June, 2006, the Balata-London Link Benefit Concert will take place at the Rivoli Ballroom in London, the United Kingdom. The Rivoli Ballroom is a unique venue in South London, that used to be a cinema in earlier times, and hosts 700 seats. The benefit is organized by John Hamilton, conductor of the Strawberry Thieves Choir, and aims to raise funds to bring a group of children from Balata Refugee Camp over to London, to work with youth groups and create drama and dance together.

Film Review: "Yasmine's Song"

Maymanah Farhat
11 June 2006


Najwa Najjar’s short feature film, Yasmine’s Song, 2005, uses the story of Yasmine, a young Palestinian woman living in a small Palestinian village, to articulate the even greater difficulties Palestinians are facing as their land, villages, communities and families become increasingly divided by the wall. In her film, Najjar examines the stifling effects of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian life through the most universal subject, love. The narrative of the film revolves around the love story of Yasmine and Ziad (a young man from her village).

Interview with Suheir Hammad

Christopher Brown
8 June 2006


I think that poetry tries to make a connection between the absences and the losses that I feel in my person, and make the connection to the body feeling detached or feeling displaced, and the reality of land and shelter and the idea of the continuity of citizenship and the idea of ancestry. I think reclaiming is an ambitious agenda - if you’re beginning to write a poem, will you actually be reclaiming the rights to a land or a nation and other rights to citizenship? So I think the work succeeds more when it’s about illuminating this detachment.

"Three Arab Painters in New York" to open in New York City

Maymanah Farhat
31 May 2006


Three Arab Painters in New York is an art exhibition that features the work of three leading New York-based Arab painters. Samia Halaby, Sumayyah Samaha and Athir Shayota have been contributing to contemporary American art for decades and have exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States. Varied in style, technique, medium, scale and artistic influence, the three present a glimpse into the diverse and complex nature of the Arab World’s art and visual culture.

Gaza artist opens "Fathers" exhibition

Sami Abu Salem
31 May 2006


Mr. Alain Rémy, the French Consul General in Jerusalem, and Moein Sadeq, the deputy general of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity (MTA) joined many people, including children, to gather under fluttering Palestinian and French flags at the door of the little museum of Qasr Albasha in the old city of Gaza. They gathered not for politics, but to celebrate the new exhibition, “Fathers,” by the Gazan artist Taysir Batniji, hosted at the museum under the patronage of the French Cultural Centre (CCF) and the MTA.


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