Art, Music & Culture

Film review: "Curfew"


It begins ordinarily enough — kids play soccer, people walk freely about the streets, and a mailman delivers letters from afar. This is Gaza in 1993, before the Oslo Peace Accords, and the setting for Curfew (1993), which was written and directed by Rashid Masharawi. “Always the same refrain. Tomorrow is another day and after that comes another day. And what will happen today?” Unfortunately, this day freedom will transform into restriction as Israeli soldiers call for a curfew that confines the Palestinian inhabitants to their homes; a restriction due to the ongoing occupation. 

Film review: "Land of '48"


A map abstractly records places, borders, and distance through line and shape. However, as a group of Palestinian refugees gather around a map that depicts Palestine before the Nakba, or the expulsion of 750,000 people from their lands and homes, these dots and letters do much more than just describe a location. They trigger memories of a land they once called home. Barrack Rima’s aptly titled documentary Land of ‘48 (2003) explores this deep connection to place through interviews conducted with refugees living in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. 

Film Review: "Soraida, A Woman of Palestine"


Soraida, A Woman of Palestine (2004) is an outstanding documentary by Egyptian-born Tahani Rached. Rached, who has directed many documentaries that focus on the condition of women in the Middle East, compellingly turns her camera on Soraida Abed Hussein and her close circle of friends and family who live in Ramallah. Throughout, we casually observe the lives of these close-knit neighbors while they recall memories (at times even re-enacting them for the camera), discuss current events, and openly expose their fears and hopes, all while going about their daily activities. 

Film review: "Another Road Home"


At some point in our lives, we grapple with understanding our childhood relationships and seek to find answers to unresolved familial ambiguities. This is exactly what Israeli-born Danae Elon chooses to document in her honest film Another Road Home (2004). While Elon’s search focuses on finding one man, Mahmoud “Musa” Obeidallah, the Palestinian caretaker who helped raise her for twenty years of her life in East Jerusalem, her subsequent film openly exposes a unique side of Palestinian-Israeli relations. 

Film review: "Sense of Need"


Sense of Need (2004) begins simply enough with the main character narrating his life for the viewer. Almost switched at birth with a red-haired Jewish boy, Palestinian Joseph was born while Israel was at war with Egypt. At the age of seven his father bought him his first piano and then “began his life in color.” At first one might take this as purely a poetic metaphor, but this is not the case in newcomer Shady Srour’s psychologically complicated and loosely autobiographical plot. Srour, a man of many talents, wrote, directed, and produced his first full-length feature film. He also portrays the protagonist Joseph, a twenty-seven year old aspiring musician who lives in San Francisco and is just a week away from finishing his masters degree. 

Film review: Door to the Sun


Bab el Shams (Door to the Sun) is the most recent cinematic achievement from Egyptian director Yousri Nasrallah. Adapted from the novel by Lebanese writer Elias Khoury, this ambitious film takes on the weighty goal of covering roughly fifty years of Palestinian history, from 1943 to 1994, and centers around the lives of a group of Palestinian refugees. EI film critic Jenny Gheith writes that Nasrallah succeeds in his large-scale recreations of demanding passages in Palestinian history while infusing intimate scenes with a nuanced tenderness. 

Star power deflects attention from ongoing debate


Last week in Ramallah, two major cinematic events took place; one was reported by the English-language press, while the other wasn’t. On April 6, the Ramallah Cultural Palace was packed with people for the second world screening of Hany Abu-Asad’s award-winning film Paradise Now. The following night, the same venue was filled with an invitation-only audience, consisting of youth bussed in from refugee camps and Palestinian ministers, to see the new Arabic-dubbed version of the 1982 Academy Award-winning film Gandhi

Review: "Made In Palestine" exhibit


The contest between occupation and self-determination, history and erasure establishes the subject for the first contemporary exhibition of Palestinian artwork in the United States. Fittingly, and perhaps a bit defiantly, the show is titled Made In Palestine. The exhibition — on display from April 7th through the 21st at the SomArts Cultural Center in San Francisco’s South of Market district — is a collection of works from twenty-three artists, most of whom currently reside in Palestine. Included in the exhibition are two-dimensional works on paper or canvas, photos and sculpture, as well as textile and video installations. 

"This is Not a Subject for Comedy": Jewish comedian tackles the Israeli-Palestinian conflict


When he was eight years old, Ivor Dembina was asked by his teacher Mr. Benson, “Are you British, or are you Jewish?” So began the journey of the North Londoner comedian (he jokes that his parents are refugees of South London) who came to question religious versus national identity, and in his hit show This is Not a Subject for Comedy gets his audience to remember the importance of this distinction. Though the show is the result of a trip to Jenin he made as a guest of the International Solidarity Movement, his experience growing up Jewish and becoming socially aware that drives the show. 

DC Cinema Palestine Film Festival, April 3-May 7


DC Cinema Palestine (DCCP) will present an array of insightful and provocative recent films and documentaries from and about Palestine. The films we have chosen explore the social, political, and personal issues confronting Palestinians. They illustrate what it means to be Palestinian in a world where Israeli occupation presents endless obstacles to the fulfillment of basic human rights. Our hope is that in some small way these films can contribute to a future of justice, peace, and co-existence. All donations and funds raised through the festival will be sent to the Milk for Preschoolers Program of ANERA, which feeds over 12,000 children in more than 100 preschools in Gaza with milk and biscuits fortified with nutrients and vitamins. 

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