Reel Palestine is a pop-up film festival showing a selection of alternative Palestinian films in the UAE. Between 16th and 24th January, there will be a selection of films screening in various venus in Dubai and Sharjah.
Why Reel Palestine?
We believe it is important to be able to see Palestinian culture and tenacity through film and submerge ourselves in the beautiful, difficult, emotional, and inspirational moments that occur under occupation.
Stories that sometimes slip under the radar: stories of maqloubeh, giraffes and nostalgia for a better time. We want to tear down the wall (literally) and allow viewers to cinematically travel to our beloved Palestine, sans restrictions.
The screenings are free. Here's the line up:
Trip Along the Exodus (dir. Hind Shoufani)
Trip Along Exodus is a feature-length documentary exploring the last 70 years of Palestinian politics seen through the prism of the life of Dr Elias Shoufani, a leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, an academic writer and leftist intellectual who worked with Fateh (but was one of the leaders of the opposition to Arafat) for 20 years. He is also the father of the filmmaker.
Series of short films
Suspended Time (dir. Asma Ghanem, Mahdi Fleifel, Ayman Azraq, Tarzan and Arab Nasser, Amin Nayef, Alaa Al Ali, Muhannad Salahat, Assem Nasser, Yazan Khalili)
In 2013, Palestinian production house Idioms Film issued an open call inviting Palestinian filmmakers to propose films reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Suspended Time compiles the nine short pieces commissioned for production. Collectively, these richly-varying works “stitch together a contemporary filmic commentary on the Oslo Accords as perceived, sensed and lived by nine filmmakers and artists.”
Individual titles in sequence: Long War by Asma Ghanem; Twenty Handshakes for Peace by Mahdi Fleifel; Oslo Syndrome by Ayman Azraq; Apartment 10/14 by Tarzan and Arab Nasser; Interference by Amin Nayef; Journey of a Sofa by Alaa Al Ali; Message to Obama by Muhannad Salahat; From Ramallah by Assem Nasser; and Leaving Oslo by Yazan Khalili.
Giraffada (dir. Rani Massalha)
A family-friendly drama inspired by real events. Ten-year-old Ziad and his zoo veterinarian father embark on a bold journey to save the West Bank’s only giraffe.
Yacine (Saleh Bakri) is a veterinarian at Qalqilya Zoo, the last remaining zoo in the West Bank. His son Ziad (Ahmad Bayatra) is especially fond of the zoo’s pair of giraffes, with whom he finds a rare calm away from the weight of the occupation. When the male giraffe dies due to an airstrike on the city, his mate Rita grows frail and withdrawn. In order to find her a new partner, father and son will have to spirit a giraffe out of an Israeli safari park and safely back into the West Bank
My Love Awaits Me by the Sea (dir. Mais Darwazah)
How do you return to a place that only exists in your mind?’ This poetic documentary chronicles the director’s first journey back to her homeland, Palestine.
Award-winning director Mais Darwazah (Take Me Home, 2008; The Dinner, 2012) leaves a secluded life in Amman, journeying to Palestine to seek out a lover she’s never met – the late Palestinian artist Hasan Hourani. Darwazah’s travelogue mixes fairytale with reality and romance as she traces the fractured geographies and uncertain dreams of a Palestinian nation. The result is a highly original road-trip into an elusive homeland.
Encounter with a Lost Land (Maryse Gargour)
French citizens who lived in Palestine from the 1920s recall life before 1948 through previously unseen personal and diplomatic archives.
Drawing on private and consular correspondences, rare audio-visual records, newspapers, diaries, and first-hand testimonies, Maryse Gargour (The Land Speaks Arabic, 2007) delivers a rich portrait of the cultural and social life of Mandate Palestine as experienced by French nationals – the sons and daughters of diplomats, priests, surgeons, and traders who lived in Palestine between the 1920s and 1950s. These rarely heard testimonies provide a unique perspective on cosmopolitan life in the wealthy urban centres of Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem during the colonial era.
Open Bethlehem (Leila Sansour)
There will be a Q&A after the film with Executive Producer Wael Kabbani and actress Carol Sansour Dabdoub.
Film director Leila Sansour returns to Bethlehem to make a film about her home town, soon to be encircled by a wall. She left the city as a teenager thinking that Bethlehem was too small and provincial. She never wanted to return but this time she is making an exception.
She intends her film to be a tribute to her late father, founder of Bethlehem University, and a man regarded as a hero by his town's folk. As Bethlehem approaches ruin her decision to flee this sleepy town, taken much to her father's regret, comes to haunt her.
Armed with her camera and a dilapidated family car that keeps breaking down, Leila plans to make an epic film about a legendary town in crisis but just few months into filming her life and the film take an unexpected turn when cousin Carol, Leila’s last relative in town, persuades her to stay to start a campaign to save the city.