New Palestinian films showing in Toronto starting Saturday

Palestine film fans in Toronto have a week packed full of new cinema to look forward to beginning Saturday when the annual Toronto Palestine Film Festival opens with Rashid Masharawi’s Palestine Stereo (2013).

Other feature films to be screened during the festival include Hany Abu-Assad’s Oscar-nominated Omar (2014) and Rani Massalha’s Giraffada (star Mohammad Bakri will be in attendance), as well as the documentaries The Village Under the Forest (2013), Cinema Palestine (2014), Just Play, Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine (2014), and Mais Darwazah’s meditative My Love Awaits Me by the Sea (2013).

There are several compelling short films included in this year’s festival as well.

Young filmmakers Yazan Khalili and Mahdi Fleifel revisit their fathers’ reactions to the now notorious peace agreement signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the mid-1990s in Leaving Oslo and 20 Handshakes for Peace, respectively.

The description of 20 Handshakes on the festival website reads:

In this experimental short, director Mahdi Fleifel reflects on the most historic handshake of modern time: “I remember the handshake very clearly. My dad recorded the ceremony on video and would play it over and over again. He could not believe what had happened. In fact, none of us could. One time he threw his shoe at the TV and shouted so loud, the next door neighbors complained about him. Listening to the last interview with Edward Said while watching the ceremony made me realize that my father’s anger was because chairman Arafat was the first one to reach out his hand.”

Fleifel has another short being screened which revisits the protagonist of his award-winning feature-length documentary A World Not Ours. The twelve-minute Xenos (2013) finds Abu Eyad, a Palestinian refugee who longs to escape a stagnant future in Lebanon’s Ein al-Hilweh camp, in Greece where he struggles to survive as a migrant.

And in another follow-up to a feature-length documentary screened at last year’s festival, Axel Salvatori-Sinz’s Dear Hassan (2014) pays tribute to Hassan Hassan, one of the youths profiled in The Shebabs of Yarmouk (2013) who was tortured and killed in a Syrian prison last year.

Also in dedication to another young life cut terribly short in Syria, the work of slain Toronto-based freelance journalist, activist and writer Ali Mustafa will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario from 29 September through 2 October as part of the festival.

Festival programming also includes a Palestinian brunch followed by a panel discussion with The Gaza Kitchen co-author Laila El-Haddad on Sunday.

For more information about the Toronto Palestine Film Festival, including the full schedule, visit

Boston festival preview

Meanwhile, the Boston Palestine Film Festival, which runs from 17-26 October, has announced this year’s selection of works, which includes dramas May in the Summer (2013) by Cherien Dabis (Amreeka), Jessica Habie’s Mars at Sunrise (2013) and the aforementioned Giraffada and Omar, Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon’s new documentary A People Without a Land, and short works by acclaimed young artist Jumana Manna.

Multiple documentaries focused on Gaza are also to be featured, including Hadeel Assali’s haunting short Shuja’iyah: Land of the Brave, a response to this summer’s carnage, and Murat Gokmen’s short Sayadeen (Fishermen) (2012) and Abdallah Omeish’s The War Around Us (2012).

The festival will also include a program of nine short films by nine Palestinian filmmakers under the title Suspended Time which look back at the two decades following the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords.

Watch the trailer below for a sneak peek of this year’s festival.




Hey Maureen,
Thanks for the coverage of the Toronto Palestine Film festival. We need more coverage on what's happening in North America on this issue.

Good, bad and sideways. In my view, this is where the key battleground is. Israel cannot be stopped as long as it has western support (principally, the usa). We should do more coverage of what the unions, churches, human rights groups, student groups, evangelical organizations, etc. etc. are thinking/doing/saying. That can help us intervene usefully.

I live in Canada, and my focus is on Canada. Canada is of course a very small player, and our government is atrocious on this. But by studying trends here, we can be more effective in making changes in Canadian policy. (I hope).

If you take a quick look at my blog, you will see what I mean.
Your comment would be very interesting to me. thanks.


I agree. I live in Philadelphia, pa, u.s.a., and the local P.D. videotape us and send their newly and federally funded "counter terrorism unit", to watch our peaceful protests. I still do my thing and send money when i can. My local Congressmen and Senator will not meet with me. But i am an old and tough Jewish woman who stands with Palestine and have support from Holocaust victims who denounce israel s treatment and genocide. I will keep writing and have even been called "jihad jane", by the lovely fraternity Z.B.T. brothers on Temple Universities campus. I still will push on and speak up. ❤ Palestine


The movie Omar is released on DVD on October 6th and available for pre-order from film clubs, some retailers and Amazon.

Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.