Art, Music & Culture

Edinburgh International Film Festival Returns Israeli Money in response to Boycott Plans

The organisers of the Edinburgh International Film Festival have cancelled an official Israeli Embassy sponsorship of their programme and returned the Israeli cheque following a huge public outcry over Israeli Embassy involvement. The film festival website carries the following: “this funding was secured some three months ago, well before the commencement of current hostilities in Lebanon. Of course we acknowledge that the situation has altered dramatically since then, and with this in mind, took the decision early yesterday to decline any funding from the Israelis.” 

Letter from Palestinian filmmakers to Locarno International Film Festival 2006

We would like to express our deep concern with the fact that the festival’s Leopards of Tomorrow program is co-sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Given the current belligerence exhibited by Israel in its ongoing brutal attack on Palestinian and Lebanese civilians and infrastructure, justified by the same Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is listed as a cosponsor of the festival, we demand that the festival organizers reconsider their relationship to the government of Israel, and withdraw the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the list of the festival’s sponsors. 

Letter to Palestinian and Lebanese filmmakers from Israeli filmmakers

We, the undersigned Israeli filmmakers, greet the Arab filmmakers who have gathered in Paris for the Arab Film Biennial. Through you, we wish to convey a message of camaraderie and solidarity with our Lebanese and Palestinian colleagues who are currently besieged and bombarded by our country’s army. We unequivocally oppose the brutality and cruelty of Israeli policy, which has reached new heights in recent weeks. Nothing justifies the continued occupation, closure, and oppression in Palestine. Nothing justifies the bombing of civilians and the destruction of infrastructures in Lebanon and Gaza. 

Film festival drops Israel as sponsor to protest attack

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

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

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

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"

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

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"

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).