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.
“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
UInited States of Palestine-Israel: Here And Elsewhere
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.