This feature-length documentary explores the concept of Palestinian cinema produced by an effectively stateless people. Cinema Palestine combines in-depth interviews with directors including Hany Abu-Assad, Azza el-Hassan, Sobhi Zobaidi, Mai Masri, Tawfik Abu Wael, Annemarie Jacir, and many more, along with excerpts from their films.
Composed entirely of footage from Israeli and American fiction features shot in Jaffa from the 1960s to the 1990s, Aljafari removes the Israeli actors to give the stage to people who appear by chance in the background, including both Palestinians and Iraqi Jews who were settled in the city. In so doing, he performs what he calls “cinematic justice” to the people who were made to appear as extras.
Set in a women’s hair salon in Gaza during a confrontation between the police and a local gangster, effectively trapping the women inside, Degrade blends caricature and reality to emphasize the complexity of life in Gaza where people are afflicted by multiple nodes of pressure and the social space of women is increasingly circumscribed by these pressures.
The film follows an elderly couple, Yousef and Amna, in their final stand-off with Israeli authorities to keep their rustic home, a shack in the Roshmia valley in Haifa. A friend encourages them to leave and works to secure municipal compensation for the couple, but tensions grow between Yousef, who refuses to leave his home, and Amna, who seeks to move on.
On the Bride’s Side records the 2013 journey of five undocumented Syrian and Palestinian refugees who end up in Italy fleeing the war in Syria, and with the help of the filmmakers, continue on from Milan to Stockholm where they seek to attain political asylum. The refugees and their supporters travel as a fake wedding party complete with a bride in a white gown, hoping to avoid detection and arrest.
Narrated by Mike Farrell, Valentino’s Ghost exposes the way America’s foreign policy agenda in the Middle East influences Hollywood and mainstream media portrayals of Arabs and Muslims.
“Sixty years after her grandparents’ exile from Jaffa, Soraya (Suheir Hammad) leaves Brooklyn to live in her homeland. Discovering that her family’s bank account was frozen after the Arab-Israeli War, she becomes determined to reclaim her birthright, through whatever means necessary.
“….a beautiful young Palestinian woman defies Israeli soldiers and struts through a check-point as if it were the catwalk of a fashion show; Santa Claus is chased up the sun- drenched hills of Nazareth by a gang of knife-wielding school kids; Israeli police use a blindfolded prisoner to provide directions to tourists in Jerusalem; and a female ninja descends from the sky, holding the map of ‘Palestine’ as her battle shield.”