New Palestine films to look out for (and others to watch online)

Publicity image shows a scene from <em>May in the Summer</em>.

May in the Summer, the sophomore feature film by Amreeka director Cherien Dabis, has generated much buzz after its debut on the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival last week.

Dabis stars as title character May, an ambitious and successful Arab American author in Jordan on the eve of her wedding, where she must sift through her family’s ups and downs as well those in her relationship with her fiancé.

Other stars in the film include veteran American actor Bill Pullman (Sleepless in Seattle, Independence Day), prolific Palestinian actor Hiam Abbas (Pomegranates and Myrrh, Miral, The Visitor) and Alia Shawkat, who starred in Dabis’ debut but is best known as Maeby Funke on the cult hit TV show Arrested Development.

Follow May in the Summer on Facebook for updates.

Watch Cherien Dabis discuss her new film:

When I Saw You

Also receiving critical acclaim is When I Saw You, which centers on a young boy who, along with his mother, is separated from his father in the mass expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinians in the wake of the 1967 War. When I Saw You is the sophomore feature by Annemarie Jacir (Salt of this Sea).

When I Saw You has been making the international film festival circuit after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September (it also premiered in Palestine last September, when it was screened at Cinema Al-Quds in Jerusalem) and was awarded Best Arab Film at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Its European premiere takes place next month at the Berlin International Film Festival (see here for more information about screenings.

You can also find more information about the film including forthcoming screenings on its Facebook page.

Watch the trailer:

The Great Book Robbery

The much-anticipated documentary The Great Book Robbery will be selectively screened during a tour of the US next month.

Benny Bruner’s film tells the story of 70,000 books which were looted from Palestinian property during the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Brunner told The Electronic Intifada in 2010: “[I]t’s about the destruction of a culture. That’s the real impact of this event; that’s the real significance and I think that needs to be communicated. And if possible, efforts have to be put in resurrecting the lost cultural world that was destroyed in 1948.”

The Economist this week reviewed the film, which recently premiered in Ramallah:

The documentary showcases a vibrant pre-1948 Middle East: one where Haifa had a rail link to Cairo and Damascus, and the Palestinian cultural scene was abuzz with literary cafes, cinemas and theatres. In lieu of tests or graded assignments, students and teachers discussed politics and philosophy under trees. It is this storied legacy of Arab culture and intelligentsia that “The Great Book Robbery” pays tribute to.

The Great Book Robbery will be screened in the US on the following dates:

5 February - Columbia University, Center for Palestine Studies. 7 Feburary - University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh. 9 February - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 12 February - Cornell University, Ithaca. 14 February - Brown University, Providence.

Groups wishing to organize a screening with the director are encouraged to contact tour manager Karina Goulordava for details.

Watch a TV-length version of The Great Book Robbery (and read Ali Abunimah’s summary):

Budrus now streaming online

The award-winning documentary Budrus, which shows the struggle of Palestinian grassroots organizers who resist the building of Israel’s wall on their West Bank village’s land, is now viewable online in North America. (Read Jimmy Johnston’s review of Budrus for The Electronic Intifada.)

Just Vision, which backed the film, announced this week:

The online release highlights a three-year outreach campaign that has brought Budrus to hundreds of venues around the world, from the Tribeca and Berlin film festivals, to Capitol Hill and the European Parliament, to Palestinian and Israeli schools, universities and youth programs. In recognition of the contribution the film has made to the debate on the role of nonviolence in the Israeli-Palestinian context, Budrus was recently awarded the prestigious PUMA.Creative Impact Award, given annually to the film that has had the greatest social or environmental impact over the past year. It was also the focus of a highly popular TEDTalk given at TEDGlobal 2011 by director Julia Bacha.

Budrus will be available in streaming format to viewers in North America starting on Tuesday, January 15th, on platforms including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, SundanceNow, Vudu, XBox and Playstation. Starting February 15th, Budrus will also be available on Netflix and Hulu. Further information about the film and a trailer are available at

Watch the Budrus trailer:

Watch 5 Broken Cameras on Hulu Plus

US subscribers to Hulu Plus can now watch 5 Broken Cameras, currently a contenter for the Oscar for best feature-length documentary. It is also available via Netflix’s streaming service.

5 Broken Cameras is an intimate portrayal of the grassroots resistance movement in Bilin village, featuring footage and narration by Emad Burnat, one of the leaders of the popular protests brutally repressed by the Israeli army. (Read Asa Winstanley’s review of the film for The Electronic Intifada).

Watch the 5 Broken Cameras trailer:

Update: A reader alerted me that Hiam Abbass’ first feature-length film under her direction, Inheritance (Héritage), premiered last fall at the Venice Days festival and is still playing in Paris. The drama’s screenplay was written by noted actor Ala Hlehel and stars many Palestinian citizens of Israel, including Abbass, Clara Khoury (Rana’s Wedding, The Syrian Bride), Makram Khoury (he played Wael Zuaiter in Spielberg’s Munich) and Yussuf Abu-Warda (Amreeka, Wedding in Galilee).

See a few clips from the film in the video below:

Editor’s note: this article previously stated 700,000 books had been looted from Palestinian property during the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. It has now been corrected to read 70,000.




Thanks for the list of films. Our feature drama TRIUMPH67, a Palestinian-American story about two brothers and their search for identity and place in middle America, is now available worldwide at our site. It also features the work of poet Mahmoud Darwish. If we can do anything for you or your readers, please let us know.


Thank you, Maureen, for this material. I just saw "5 Broken Cameras" at cinema 3 days ago, and I'm still reeling from it. This film touches your every nerve. I thought I was prepared for it, but no. Nothing prepared me for this. I also thought I couldn't possibly become more convinced - and I have. If it were possible, I would tell Emad & Guy that they have given us the best gift ever. I often find it difficult to speak about the subject and educate people; it proves so unexpectedly difficult, especially for someone has not been to Palestine yet. And here comes Emad, Masha'Allah, and hands us everything on the plate, giving us the best possible tool. And all we have to do is just tell everyone who cares to listen to go see the film, and it will do the rest.

Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.