Six Films for Palestine
We stand in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank who are facing an escalation of violence by Israel aimed at their displacement, dispossession and destruction. What we are witnessing right now in Gaza are the horrors of genocide. A culmination of violence which has been ongoing for 75 years.
To help raise money to support Palestinians as they deal with this current escalation of violence, we are hosting a month-long online solidarity screening programme featuring a collection of six films by Palestinian filmmakers. In this collection of films, Palestinian filmmakers explore all the ways that the Israeli occupation stifles life and the many more ways that Palestinians find to resist and persist.
Donate what you can and please share widely. All donations will be split evenly between Medical Aid Palestine and Arwa’s relatives in Gaza. The films will be available to view online till 22nd November.
Once you have signed up you will see a link to the films in your order receipt and at the bottom of your confirmation email, under ‘additional information’. Look for an app.curate-it.co.uk link.
We No Longer Prefer Mountains (2023) dir, Inas Halabi
WE NO LONGER PREFER MOUNTAINS takes place in the Druze town of Dalyet el Carmel, in northern Palestine, pulling the viewer into a surreal world of geographic isolation, shrouded mysticism and a locale shaped by co-optation, coercion, and control. Weaving together intimate engagements with members of the community, in shared domestic spaces and outdoor environments, the film sets out to explore how the inner politics of the Druze have been controlled and reshaped as a result of the establishment of Israel in 1948. The film is informed by the landscape theory (fûkeiron), a Japanese Avant Garde film movement in the 60s whereby the filmmakers posited that filming the everyday surroundings reveal the oppressive and repressively isolating landscapes and the powers at play.
This film is only available in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Palestine, Canada, USA and Italy.
Foragers (2022) dir, Jumana Manna
Foragers depicts the dramas around the practice of foraging for wild edible plants in Palestine/Israel with wry humor and a meditative pace. Shot in the Golan Heights, the Galilee and Jerusalem, it employs fiction, documentary and archival footage to portray the impact of Israeli nature protection laws on these customs. The restrictions prohibit the collection of the artichoke-like ’akkoub and za’atar (thyme), and have resulted in fines and trials for hundreds caught collecting these native plants. For Palestinians, these laws constitute an ecological veil for legislation that further alienates them from their land while Israeli state representatives insist on their scientific expertise and duty to protect. Following the plants from the wild to the kitchen, from the chases between the foragers and the nature patrol, to courtroom defenses, Foragers captures the joy and knowledge embodied in these traditions alongside their resilience to the prohibitive law. By reframing the terms and constraints of preservation, the film raises questions around the politics of extinction, namely who determines what is made extinct and what gets to live on.
Strange Cities Are Familiar (2019) dir, Saeed Taji Farouky
Ashraf has been a political refugee in London for 30 years, content with spending his days in his study or his local social club. One day he receives a call from his friend, telling Ashraf that his son Moataz has been fatally wounded in a protest. His friend pleads with Ashraf to return home. As Ashraf struggles to return to Palestine, he recollects moments from his past – memories that are a heavy burden and a reminder of his failures and mistakes.
Ghost Hunting (2017) dir, Raed Andoni
For more than 25 years, one image has been haunting director Raed Andoni – that of a boy (18), head covered with a bag and handcuffed, sitting inside a prison yard. The same sounds always accompany this image: metal doors opening and footsteps slowly approaching. Through the lower part of the bag, the boy can see a man wearing white sneakers walking away. A survivor of the prison experience himself, Raed has fragmented memories that he can’t distinguish as real or imaginary.
In order to confront the ghost that haunts him, he decides to rebuild the Al-Moscobiya investigation centre in an empty warehouse near Ramallah. A casting call for former prisoners results in an eclectic group of construction workers, a blacksmith, an architect and an artist. As they build a copy of their former jail based on their own memories, Raed digs deep into their memories, triggered by reenactments and roleplaying. For this purpose, he focuses on the story of Mohammad (50), whose resistance to the investigation methods – stoked by laughter and rebellion – made him a hero among Palestinians.
A World Not Ours (2012) dir, Mahdi Fleifel
A World Not Ours is a passionate, bittersweet account of one family’s multi-generational experience living as permanent refugees. Now a Danish resident, director Mahdi Fleifel grew up in the Ain el-Helweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, established in 1948 as a temporary refuge for exiled Palestinians. Today, the camp houses 70,000 people and is the hometown of generations of Palestinians. The filmmaker’s childhood memories are surprisingly warm and humorous, a testament to the resilience of the community. Yet his yearly visits reveal the increasing desperation of family and friends who remain trapped in psychological as well as political limbo. Official Selection of the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival.
They Do Not Exist (1974) dir, Mustafa Abu Ali
Salvaged from the ruins of Beirut after 1982, Abu Ali’s early film has only recently been made available. Shooting under extraordinary conditions, the director, who worked with Godard on his Ici et Ailleurs (Here and Elsewhere), and founded the PLO’s film division, covers conditions in Lebanon’s refugee camps, the effects of Israeli bombardments, and the lives of guerrillas in training camps. They Do Not Exist is a stylistically unique work which demonstrates the intersection between the political and the aesthetic. Now recognised as a cornerstone in the development of Palestinian cinema, the film only received its Palestine premiere in 2003, when a group of Palestinian artists “smuggled” the director to a makeshift cinema in his hometown of Jerusalem (into which Israel bars his entry).
Inas Halabi (b.1988, Palestine) is an Artist/Filmmaker. Her practice is concerned with how social and political forms of power are manifested and the impact that overlooked or suppressed histories have on contemporary life. Recent exhibitions and screenings include Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (2023), de Appel Amsterdam (2023), Showroom London (2022), Europalia Festival, Brussels (2021), Silent Green Betonhalle, Berlin (2021); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2020); and Film at Lincoln Center, USA (2020). She lives and works between Palestine and the Netherlands.
Jumana Manna is a visual artist and filmmaker. Her work explores how power is articulated, focusing on the body, land and materiality in relation to colonial inheritances and histories of place. Through sculpture, filmmaking, and occasional writing, Manna deals with the paradoxes of preservation practices, particularly within the fields of archaeology, agriculture and law. Her practice considers the tension between the modernist traditions of categorisation and conservation and the unruly potential of ruination as an integral part of life and its regeneration. Jumana was raised in Jerusalem and lives in Berlin.
Mahdi Fleifel (1979, United Arab Emirates) is a Danish-Palestinian filmmaker and visual artist who was born in Dubai, grew up in a refugee camp in Lebanon and moved to Denmark in 1988. Fuelled by his own experience, his films frequently deal with refugees. His debut feature, A World Not Ours (2012), received over 30 awards from different festivals and in 2016 he received a Silver Bear Jury Prize for his short, A Man Returned.
Saeed Taji Farouky is a Palestinian-Egyptian-British filmmaker, educator, and curator who has been making work around themes of conflict, human rights, and colonialism since 2004. His work is dedicated to developing a vernacular cinema, liberated from the conventions of the industry and distinct from classical European story structure.His 2021 documentary, A Thousand Fires premiered as the opening film of Locarno’s Critics’ Week where it won the Marco Zucchi Prize for most innovative documentary. His previous feature documentary Tell Spring Not to Come This Year premiered at Berlinale 2015 where it won 2 awards.
Born in 1967 in the West Bank, Raed Andoni is a self-taught filmmaker who has been involved in the development of independent cinema in Palestine since 1997. Producer before becoming a director, he is the co-founder of Dar Films, an independent production company based in Ramallah. Through Dar, he has produced and co-produced several award-winning documentaries, such as The Inner Tour, Live from Palestine and Invasion. Raed Andoni is also the co-founder of the Paris-based production company Les Films de Zayna.
Mustafa Abu Ali, (1940 in Maliha, Palestine – 30 July 2009 in Jerusalem, Palestine) was a Palestinian filmmaker. Abu Ali studied at the University of California-Berkeley in the 1960s before studying cinema in London, graduating in 1967. One of the founders of Palestinian cinema under the auspices of the PLO, and the Palestinian Cinema Association in Beirut in 1973, (re-established in Ramallah in 2004), he wrote four screenplays and directed more than 30 films, for which he won more than 14 awards, the most recent from the 2003 Ismailia Film Festival.
We’d like to thank all the filmmakers for giving us permission to use their films in solidarity with Palestinians and for their generosity and help during this horrendous time. Thank you also to Aya Films/Curate-it for providing the online platform from which to share the films.
Other Cinemas is a project focused on the transformational power of film; whether that is showcasing the work of Black and non-white filmmakers; creating networks for Black and non-white creatives to work, learn and collaborate; or using film to document the stories of Black and non-white communities. Other Cinemas regularly hosts free film screenings in ways and spaces that serve our communities and also runs an informal film school of young Black and non-white filmmakers which seeks to create a real space for conversation and collaboration. Other Cinemas was set up by Arwa Aburawa and Turab Shah, two filmmakers who saw the need for better ways to make and share films.