Film festival to bring real Palestine in reels
12 films on Palestine's culture to be screened from January 23 to 30 at various locations.
Local organisers of the upcoming "Reel Palestine" film festival hope to "tear down the wall" by giving UAE residents a glimpse into the realities - both good and bad - of life in the occupied territories and to promote understanding of Palestinian culture.
Now in its second year, the festival will be screening 12 features and short films at various locations throughout in Dubai and Sharjah between January 23 and January 30, Reel Palestine is organised by Egyptian-Canadian Dubai resident Nadia Rouchdy and three Palestinian colleagues named Dana, Ali and Noora, all of whom are also based in Dubai.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Rouchdy said that the idea for Reel Palestine began after an ad hoc and informal screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras in 2014 - a 94-minute documentary showing a first-hand account of protests in a West Bank village affected by the Israeli West Bank barrier.
"It was so well received that we wanted to do it again the following year. We did a bit of research into Palestinian film festivals around the world. They exist in Houston, in Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Toronto," she said. "But there was none in the Middle East."
"Essentially, the idea was that there are so many people here who would love to have a view into Palestine today that it would be a shame not to screen these films," she added.
"Culturally, people want that here. There is a lot of art and culture coming up, but maybe not a lot of Palestinian film. We want to fill that gap."
Additionally, Rouchdy said that in her case she was partly inspired by her experiences traveling in Palestine while living in Jordan, and by her friendships with Palestinians.
"On a personal level for me, I was always motivated by the injustices I saw," she said. "Going there gave me a glimpse to what was happening. I tried to direct my efforts into positive initiatives. The people I work with live and breathe this cause every day."
The films scheduled to be shown span a wide range of genres, which Rouchdy says provide an accurate perspective on both the negative and positive aspects of life in the Palestinian territories.
"Showing these films, in essence, gets people to see beyond the wall, beyond what's on the news and beyond the heart wrenching events that happen," she said. "We forget that there is love and heartbreak. There are children. There are still happy moments that happen in Palestine, and we want to highlight both sides of it."
As an example, Rouchdy highlighted that the festival will be screening films such as the animated documentary The Wanted 18, which is about Palestinian villagers hiding a herd of cows from Israeli soldiers during the First Intifada.
"It's a different perspective. It's important to show true stories, of people sharing food, engaging with animals, or even more difficult things like people being imprisoned," she said. "People don't have the opportunity to see those nuances that happen on the ground."
"We feel like we can let people into those lives and give a more full perspective," she added.
"The sky is the limit with the film scene in Palestine, and it's just going to get bigger and better."
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