2021 London Palestine Film Festival: Five Films not to miss
Palestinian Cinema is back in the UK capital. Here The New Arab picks five films you need to see.
The London Palestine Film Festival kicks off this Friday 19 November with the UK premiere of Al-Garib (The Stranger) – Palestine’s nomination for the Academy Awards 2022 - at the Barbican.
The festival – now in its 4th edition – will last two weeks (November 19 – December 3) and will feature dozens of feature films, documentaries, Q&As, and live events in venues across London. This year’s attendees include Cannes Critics’ Prize winner and Palestinian director Michel Khleifi, artist and filmmaker Larissa Sansour, and Israeli documentarian Eyal Sivan.
Al-Garib (2021) at Barbican – November 19
Directed Ameer Fakher Eldin and rumoured to be the first film entirely shot in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights, Al-Garib (The Stranger) follows Adnan, an elderly unlicensed doctor, as he navigates an existential crisis living under military occupation. His life takes another unlucky turn when he encounters a man wounded near the checkpoint. Overturning all community expectations in times of war and national crisis, he ventures forth to meet his newly found destiny. Al-Garib features two of Palestine’s most acclaimed actors, Mohamed Bakri and Ashraf Barhoum.
Tale of the Three Jewels (1995) + Q&A at Barbican – November 24
From veteran director Michel Khleifi, this tale of innocence, love and imagination is set against a backdrop of conflict and occupation. Known to be the first feature ever filmed in the Gaza Strip, the digitally remastered Tale of the Three Jewels tells the story of 12-year-old Yusef who falls in love with Aida, a beautiful gypsy girl from a nearby neighbourhood. Yusef declares his intention of making her his bride. However, she says he must first find the three jewels missing from a necklace brought from South America by her grandfather. Yusef must draw the plan to cross the sea to fulfil Aida's request and win her love.
Jaffa: The Orange’s Clockwork (2009) + Q&A at Curzon Soho – November 29
A political essay in form, Eyal Sivan’s archival documentary excavates the entwined visual and political histories of a citrus fruit originating in Palestine and known worldwide as the "Jaffa Orange". While this orange has been translated into a symbol of the Zionist enterprise and even the state of Israel, for Palestinians it remains a powerful symbol of the loss and destruction of their homeland. By exploring the visual history of this brand, the film reflects on western fantasies related to the "Orient" and "Holy Land", unveiling a story of what was once a communal industry shared by Arabs and Jews in Palestine.
Little Palestine: Diary of a Siege (2021) at Curzon Soho – November 30
In 2013, the Assad regime blocked all routes in and out of Yarmouk, the biggest Palestinian refugee camp from 1957-2018. Under Assad’s siege, its inhabitants were deprived of food, water and contact with the outside world. Director and writer Abdallah Al-Khatib – born and raised in the camp - takes us through the district’s streets, meeting elders and participating in lively protests; children wise beyond their years tell us where they find meaning and whose dreams all involve food. Al-Khatib’s film diary and poetic reflections are testament to the dignity of the human spirit.
You Come From Far Away (2018) at SOAS – December 2
You Come From Far Away tells the extraordinary story of a Palestinian family dispersed by turmoil of the 20th century. From the Spanish Civil War, in which their father, Najati Sidki, fought against Franco and fascism, to World War II, the Nakba and Lebanese Civil War, director Amal Ramsis's family was dispersed to Spain, Russia, Brazil, and other places around the world. But what we see through their incredible story of distance and upheaval, is the importance of the most human of all bonds: family love.