18 January - 26 JanuaryAED 50
Reel Palestine was set up by group of friends in Dubai in 2014 and launched its first pop-up festival in January 2015 with the purpose of showing Palestinian culture and tenacity through film, submerging viewers in the beautiful, difficult, emotional, and inspirational moments that occur under occupation.
This year’s Reel Palestine is the biggest and best festival yet, running from 18-26 January at Cinema Akil in Alserkal Avenue (with some screenings also at Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi) with talks, a market of Palestinian crafts and flavours, and two screenings per day.
Here’s the full schedule. Some highlights:
What Wala’a Wants dir Christy Garland (2018) Raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank while her mother was in an Israeli prison, Wala’a is determined to become one of the few women in the Palestinian Security Forces. Following Wala’a for six years from the age of 15, What Wala’a Wants is the compelling story of a defiant young girl navigating formidable obstacles and disproving the negative predictions from her surroundings and the world at large.
Wall dir Cam Christiansen (2017) This feature-length animation was written by and stars playwright David Hare, following him on a trip to the Middle East to examine the impact of the wall separating Israel and Palestine. Rich with imagery, the film is framed by Hare’s journey, as both his heart and mind are shaken by the incongruities and contradictions of life in the wall’s shadow.
The Tower dir Mats Grorud (2018) Wardi, an eleven-year-old Palestinian girl, lives with her whole family in the Lebanese refugee camp where she was born. Her beloved great-grandfather Sidi was one of the first people to settle in the camp after being chased from his home back in 1948. The day Sidi gives her the key to his old house back in Galilee, she fears he may have lost hope of someday going home. As she searches for Sidi’s lost hope around the camp, she will collect her family’s testimonies, from one generation to the next.
Nayla and the Uprising dir Julia Bacha (2017) The remarkable journey of Naila Ayesh whose story weaves through the most vibrant, nonviolent mobilisation in Palestinian history – the First Intifada in the late 1980s. Forced to choose between love, family and freedom, she embraces all three …
The Judge dir Erika Cohn (2017) When she was a young lawyer, Kholoud Al-Faqih walked into the office of Palestine’s Chief Justice and announced she wanted to join the bench. He laughed at her. But just a few years later, Kholoud became the first woman judge to be appointed to appointed to a Sharia’h court in the Middle East. The Judge offers a unique portrait of Judge Kholoud, with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice. In the process, the film illuminates some of the universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine – custody of children, divorce, abuse – while offering an unvarnished look at life for women and Sharia’h.
White Oil dir Judy Price (2014) A film that unfolds narratives around colonialism, expropriation of land and mobility through the day-to-day lives of the quarry owners, workers and security guards. There are over 350 quarries in the West Bank. The stone excavated has been termed the ‘white oil’ of Palestine and is the only raw material available to support the Palestinian economy. But 65 percent is of the stone and sand excavated from the quarries expropriated by Israel for the construction of Israel, and to build the illegal settlements in the West Bank, with Israel also exporting the stone internationally and claiming it as their own product.
A Stone’s Throw From Prison dir Raquel Castells (2016) Growing up in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is not easy. When you leave home for school, your mother can’t be sure of when you’ll be back. A stroll with your friends may end up in a police interrogation station. On any night, a group of soldiers may wake you up in the middle of the night and take you, your brother, your father to prison, after blinding and handcuffing you in front of your family. This film is the story of Rami, Ahmed, Mohammed – three kids among thousands.
Ambulance dir Mohamed Jabaly (2016) A raw, first-person account of the War in July 2014. Mohamed Jabaly, a young man from Gaza City joins an ambulance crew as the war approaches. We experience the war through Mohamed’s eyes, watching directly from the passenger’s seat, as he comes of age among dead bodies, terrified families, and the constant risk of sudden death.
The Man Who Stole Banksy dir Marco Proserpio (2018) In 2007 Banksy slipped into Palestine to paint on the West Bank Barrier. A local taxi driver decides to cut off a piece depicting an Israeli soldier checking a donkey’s ID and sell it on eBay. What follows is a story of clashing cultures, art, identity, theft and the black market.
Us, Children of the Camp dir Samer Salameh (2017) The film follows the director’s journey as he is forced to join the Palestinian Liberation Army in Syria only a month before the start of the Syrian uprising. With the escalation of violence and the increasing attacks by the Syrian regime army on the camp, he and his friends attempt to document the hopes, struggles, departures and loss they experience.
Screwdriver dir Bassam Jarbawi (2018) In 1992, Al-Amari Refugee Camp in Palestine is a collection of cement cubicles, angles, colours, smells and sounds. It’s tight, but eight year olds Ziad and Ramzi find the space to explore. While playing around, Ziad accidentally cuts Ramzi so Ramzi stabs Ziad with a screwdriver. Immediately, they become best friends. By 2002 and now teenagers, Ziad and Ramzi are the stars of Al-Amari basketball team; but then Ramzi is shot dead in a crossfire. Ziad is captured by Israeli forces and imprisoned for 15 years. On his release Ziad struggles to adjust to modern Palestinian life as the hero everyone hails him to be; unable to distinguish reality from hallucination he unravels and forces himself to go back to where it all began.