The “New” Cinema of Palestine

villatouma

Scene from Suha Arraf’s Villa Touma

Recent Palestinian films such as Suha Arraf’s Villa Touma and Najwa Najjar’s Eyes of A Thief have been described as “new,” offering “unique” perspectives on Palestinian life. Daoud Kuttab for example, writing in Al Monitor, places Najjar’s film within a cadre of filmmakers, some new, others well-established, who are “trying to show the complexity of Palestinian life”:

Now, however, a new cadre of Palestinian filmmakers is trying to show the complexity of Palestinian life, and therefore Palestinians’ humanity. Filmmakers such as Michel Khleifi, Elia Suleiman, Hany Abu Assad, Azza el Hassan, Suha Arraf, Raed, Saed Andoni and others have portrayed much more nuanced and complex visions of Palestinian life under occupation.

Some of the film-makers themselves have pointed out that, even though their work may develop new themes, they are building on previous work and locate their films very much within the evolving and multifarious category “Palestinian cinema”:

“Everyone is saying that the film is so different from Palestinian cinema,” says Arraf, who was born in a Palestinian village and now lives in Haifa. “But I use the same elements as my colleagues – I use the colours of the flag, I use the wall of the house to symbolise the wall surrounding Ramallah. There is a lot of subtext in my film and this is the way I like to tell stories.”

Sabah Haider, in the long article “Palestine already exists on film”, made the same point a few years ago:

Over the past 10 years a new wave of Palestinian filmmakers has constructed a specific national identity on screen. It is more directly political than the earlier film portrayals of Palestinian lives and stories…The filmmakers of the new wave have succeeded in constructing a Palestinian national identity that transcends the fragmented diaspora; they have made cinema a key medium for the documentation and preservation of the history of their struggle.

 

Given this fragmented diaspora, some might make the case that Palestinian cinema can never be one cohesive category and yet they are bound together, as the American-Arab journalist Nana Asfour says: “What binds Palestinian films together are the language – Palestinian Arabic – the subject – Palestinian lives – and the desire of each director to portray his own take on what being Palestinian means” (4).

 

 

Israeli and Palestinian Cinema: Shaping Memory and Imagining the Future

Here, scholar Ella Habiba Shohat and curator Rasha Salti discuss the new edition of Shohat’s seminal book Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (Library of Modern Middle Eastern Studies, 2010). This conversation is punctuated by brief excerpts from Palestinian films produced in Israel, and diasporic films that address the contested geography of Israel/Palestine.

 

UInited States of Palestine-Israel: Here And Elsewhere

United States of Palestine-Israel: Here And Elsewhere. Welcoming Remarks from Vera List Center on Vimeo.

United States of Palestine-Israel: Here And Elsewhere. Conversation I from Vera List Center on Vimeo.

United States of Palestine-Israel: Here And Elsewhere. Conversation II from Vera List Center on Vimeo.

 

 

 Flying Paper: New York Film Premiere, with a “very very brief tribute to Palestinian cinema itself.”

 

The State of Contemporary Palestinian Cinema

The Toronto Palestine Film Festival hosts a discussion panel featuring Michel Khleifi, acclaimed Palestinian director (Wedding in Galilee and Zindeeq) and Palestinian-Canadian Producer Christina Piovesan (Amreeka and The Whistleblower). They discuss their experiences making films on Palestine and filming in Palestine, and share their thoughts on the future direction of Palestinian cinema.

 

 

 

 

 

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