Update: After this post was published, I learned that the Second Annual DC Palestinian Film Festival is currently running through 30 September
The Toronto Palestine film festival runs 29 September-7 October and the Boston Palestine Film Festival runs 5-13 October
Palestine film fans and those interested in learning more about the many chapters and folds in Palestine’s history have great programming to look forward to at both the Toronto and Boston Palestine film festivals. (As will Marcel Khalifé fans — he is performing at the Toronto festival’s closing night concert.)
Lebanese-American Susan Youssef’s first feature film Habibi, the first filmed in Gaza in recent years, will be featured at both festivals. Also featured at both festivals is be Abdallah Omeish’s documentary The War Around Us, focusing on two Al Jazeera reporters, Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros, who were the only major English-language media correspondents in Gaza during Israel’s three weeks of attacks in winter 2008-2009 (The Electronic Intifada reviewer Sarah Irving described the documentary as “deeply moving.”) Beyond the Walls, focusing on the lives of Palestinian political prisoners after their release from Israeli prison in the ’70s and ’80s, will also be screened at both festivals.
Palestinian film has a rich history — from the works of Michel Khleifi and Palestinian revolution cinema to a new generation of filmmaking (this year the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee published a 79-page survey of film dealing with Palestine that would make for a great, updated online databse). Palestinian filmmakers like Elia Suleiman, Hany Abu-Assad and Annemarie Jacir are at the forefront of contemporary filmmaking, debuting their films at major international festivals.
Variety Arabia reports that Susan Youssef is developing a new film, while Annemarie Jacir’s latest film When I Saw You premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, while Amreeka filmmaker Cherien Dabis’ second feature May in Summer is now in post-production. Pomegranates and Myrrh director Najwa Najjar is working on Eyes of a Theif, “a thriller based on a true story.”
Festivals showcase breadth of talent
The annual Palestine film festivals which have sprung up across North America and also in Europe showcase the breadth of talent that makes these festivals worth returning to year after year.
Toronto’s festival this year features a number of documentaries, including two dealing with the Palestinian refugees’ traumatic experiences in Lebanon (Nadim Mishlawi’s Sector Zero and Marco Pasquini’s Gaza Hospital, as well as Roadmap to Apartheid, narrated by Alice Walker (The Electronic Intifada reviewer Abraham Greenhouse described Roadmap as “an important achievement in the history of popular education about Palestine”).
The Boston festival program this year includes thematic series focusing on political prisoners, women, environment, the olive tree, southern Palestine and “Occupied Lives, Occupied Homes.” Palestinian photojournalist Emad Burnat’s feature-length documentary 5 Broken Cameras (with Guy Davidi) is also a festival selection, as well as the feature film The Last Friday, by Yahya Alabdallah.
For more information and schedules
Toronto Palestine Film Festival: http://tpff.ca/
Boston Palestine Film Festival: http://www.bostonpalestinefilmfest.org/