How a film festival seeks to improve film culture in Palestine

From fiction and short films to documentaries and real life, the Palestinian Film Days this year presented a rich, diverse and unique selection of Palestinian, Arab and international films.

Hundreds of Palestinian, Arab and international actors, directors and artists gathered in Ramallah to mark the 8th Palestinian Film Days festival. Created by the Film Lab Palestine Foundation, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Ramallah, the festival presented a number of local, Arab and international films, including 11 films which will be screened for the first time around the world. Arab.

The festival opened on November 3 with the premiere of The foreigner, directed by Amir Fakher El-Din from the Golan Heights, a region in southwestern Syria. It is the region’s first feature film and is a co-production of Syria, Palestine, Qatar and Germany. Recently, it was chosen to officially represent the Palestinian Territories in the category of Best Foreign Language Film in competition for the 94th Academy Awards 2022.

The film has been translated into English and includes dialogues in Hebrew. It takes the audience through eight actors and their families residing in the Golan Heights and reports on what happened in the region in 1967, after Israel captured the region, triggering a mass exodus of local residents and the evacuation of towns and villages. .

Director Fakher El-Din said The New Arabic, “I am delighted that my film has been chosen to open such an important cinematic event. I am proud of the Golan Heights and the film is living proof that we are all in the same boat, living under occupation and hoping that ‘one day we will have a state,’ he said.

“It’s a film about each of us… it’s about our fathers, our grandfathers and even the generations to come,” added the director.

“Our partnership with the Palestine Film Days Festival comes from our conviction of the importance of this artistic section by being present on international platforms to consecrate the Palestinian story”

About 65 films from Palestine, Arab countries and other countries including Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Malta, Bosnia, Serbia, France, England, America, Denmark and Sweden participated in the festival.

Most Highlighted Movies Included Princess by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, Son of the Sun from Iranian director Majid Majidi, the historical drama Where, Aïda? by Bosnian director Jazmila Španić, Father by Serbian director Sardan Golbovic, The third war by Italian director Giovanni Aloi, No special place by Italian director Uberto Pasolini, Lozo by Maltese-American director Alex Camilleri, In peace by French director Emmanuelle Bercotte, and concluding its edition on November 8 with the film Ali your voice by Moroccan director Nabil Aayush.

The festival also presented a distinguished group of documentary productions, including President by Danish director Camilla Nilsson, My name is greta by Swedish director Nathan Grossman, Their Algeria by Lina Sweilem, Our memory by Syrian director Rami Farah, An X photo of a family by Iranian director Firouzeh Khosrovani, A room without a view by Rose Corella, and Beautiful things that we left behind by Catherine Philippe.

In cooperation with the Claremont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, the festival also presented a set of short films, including children’s films. Aiming to build a culture of cinema and its importance to future generations, the festival projected Song of the sea by Irish director Tom Moore, Fahim by French director Pierre François Martin-Laval, and The Moulin Noir by Polish director Mariusz Palij.

Participants arrive for the opening of Palestinian Film Days in Ramallah, West Bank, November 3 [Getty]

“There is no doubt that our partnership with the Palestine Film Days Festival stems from our conviction of the importance of this artistic section by being present on international platforms to consecrate the Palestinian narrative on the one hand, and to know others. stories of peoples who do not go through official cinema or the general public, ”said the mayor of Ramallah Mousa Hadid The new Arabic.

He said the festival intersects with the municipality’s vision of decentralized cultural work. It widens the circle of the public through the historical space of Palestine on the one hand and elevates the network of relations of Palestine to the world through the various programs of the festival.

“We want to create a productive and dynamic film industry in Palestine based on professional and creative filmmakers”

Festival founder and director Hanna Attalah said the festival aims to promote film culture in the Palestinian territories and create a platform that celebrates the emerging talents of Palestinian directors and those in the diaspora. He also wants to support local cinema. He called on all local, Arab and international cultural institutions to unite their efforts to support the cinema sector in the Palestinian territories and help the sector overcome the obstacles it is going through.

On the sidelines of the festival, Film Lab Palestine inaugurates the fourth edition of the Palestinian Filmmakers Forum, where participants exchanged lessons learned from their experiences. The forum was the scene of a series of meetings and workshops specializing in film production, with a focus on how to strengthen the production infrastructure to support a local film industry, especially as the film industry around the world is now trying to overcome the repercussions of the Coronavirus. pandemic.

Hundreds of Palestinian, Arab and international actors, directors and artists gathered for the festival [Getty]

Ola Salama, Executive Director of Film Lab Palestine, said The New Arabic that the festival continues to build on the successes accumulated in previous sessions, noting that the festival stems from the strategic vision of its foundation.

“We aim to enhance film culture in Palestine by providing an ideal space to produce and screen films, exchange experiences, learn, share and inspire. We want to create a productive and vibrant film industry in Palestine based on professional and creative filmmakers. She explained.

Sally Ibrahim is a Palestinian journalist from the New Arab based in the Gaza Strip

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