“Hearing is not like seeing and seeing is different from living the experience,” reflects Shehada’s mother about life in Rafah. And for a week in May 2004, that experience worsened as Israeli forces pushed forward with “Operation Rainbow,” killing 45 Palestinians, 38 of them civilians including nine children. “The only thing we can do is pray to God.” This overwhelmingly distraught sentiment runs throughout Shehada’s newest documentary Rainbow (2004), which examines first hand the devastating effects of the events of May 13-May 20th. However, this film is not a documentary in the traditional sense — from the perspective of an outsider looking in. Read more about Film review: "Rainbow"
The Eternal Dance (2003), the second film directed by noted Palestinian actress Hiam Abbas (Satin Rouge, Door to the Sun), is the beautifully poetic story of coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. Just shy of thirty minutes, each short scene commands heartfelt performances that tenderly reveal the emotion that death leaves in its wake. While on the surface the plot is simple, The Eternal Dance reveals itself to be much more. The Eternal Dance at times feels more like a stage play than a film, but this is not a bad thing. Every suggestive movement, silence and gesture builds to create an unforgettable film dealing with a highly significant subject. Read more about Film review: "The Eternal Dance"
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. Read more about Film review: "Curfew"
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. Read more about Film review: "Land of '48"
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. Read more about Film Review: "Soraida, A Woman of Palestine"
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. Read more about Film review: "Another Road Home"
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. Read more about Film review: "Sense of Need"
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. Read more about Film review: Door to the Sun
Filmed within three days in 2002, just one year before his death at the age of 67, Edward Said: The Last Interview is a compelling portrait of a man who was not only a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause, but an accomplished teacher, literary critic, writer and musician. After living for more than ten years with a fatal strain of leukemia, which he was diagnosed with in 1991, Said refused interviews. However, former student D.D. Guttenplan along with director Mike Dibb convinced him otherwise. Jenny Gheith reviews the film for EI. Read more about Film review: "Edward Said: The Last Interview"
What is it like for a Palestinian-American artist to make art when each day Palestinians are suffering at home because of the Israeli occupation and current intifada? How can art help bridge borders and open people’s eyes to the realities of the Palestinians? These questions find answers in the work of Palestinian-American artist Emily Jacir, who works in Ramallah and New York, and is best known for conceptually based photography, video and installation projects that do not hide her political sympathies or ignore the highly charged atmosphere in which she lives. Read more about Exhibiting Politics: Palestinian-American Artist Emily Jacir Talks About her Work