FILMS ABOUT PALESTINE
The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project owns the following films and can lend them for free public showings or household viewing. We can also provide someone to introduce the film and facilitate discussion. See SPEAKERS and LENDING POLICIES below for more details.
To commemorate the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) announced the online publication of a guide to Palestinian film and filmmaking. It features information on and access to hundreds of films and film institutions, giving an unprecedented overview of almost every aspect of Palestinian filmmaking.
PALESTINE IN FILM
A Guide and an Annotated Filmography By Marvin Wingfield, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Jenny Morgan, 2002. VHS. 52 min.
Filming began immediately after the destruction of Jenin Refugee Camp by Israeli forces. The devastation of a desperate people is poignantly portrayed. Images of a harsh reality are prominent – mass burial pits and piles of rubble where homes, businesses and villages once stood. Includes images from Nablus and other West Bank towns invaded by Israel in early 2002. (See also “Jenin, Jenin,” below.)
Cover Up: Attack on the USS Liberty
History Undercover (TV), 2001. Locally taped VHS. 50 min.
During the Six Day War in 1967 the USS Liberty was attacked in international waters by Israeli forces. 34 Americans were killed. Yet the U.S. government helped to cover up the incident from the American public. A thorough examination of the incident and the reasons behind it.
Cultures of Resistance
Iara Lee, 2011. HDCAM or DVD. 73 minutes.
Does each gesture really make a difference? Can music and dance be weapons of peace? In 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, director Iara Lee embarked on a journey to better understand a world increasingly embroiled in conflict and, as she saw it, heading for self-destruction. After several years, travelling over five continents, Iara encountered growing numbers of people who committed their lives to promoting change. This is their story. From IRAN, where graffiti and rap became tools in fighting government repression, to BURMA, where monks acting in the tradition of Gandhi take on a dictatorship, moving on to BRAZIL, where musicians reach out to slum kids and transform guns into guitars, and ending in PALESTINIAN refugee camps in LEBANON, where photography, music, and film have given a voice to those rarely heard, CULTURES OF RESISTANCE explores how art and creativity can be ammunition in the battle for peace and justice. Website
Dispatches: The Killing Zone
Sandra Jordan and Rodrigo Vasquez, 2003. VHS. 52 min.
Documentary by two British journalists who travel to the Gaza Strip and immediately experience Israeli gunfire and teargas as they cover a memorial service for Rachel Corrie. Staying five weeks, they document the Corrie killing, the fatal shooting of Tom Hurndall and that of British cameraman James Miller, as well as the deaths and injuries of scores of Palestinians.
Dispatches: Unseen Gaza
January 2009. DVD. 48 min.
This film aired on UK Channel 4 right at the end of the January 2009 Israeli attack on Gaza. It focuses on news — especially TV — coverage of the Israeli assault. It details how Israel kept all journalists at least a mile away, preventing any reporting by Western news personnel actually on the ground inside Gaza. It shows that this media containment and control operation was planned and prepared for several months before the attack (the same period when the military operation was planned). The Israeli government felt they had failed to sufficiently control the media during the 2006 “war” on Lebanon, and this time sought to establish complete control. Except for Aljazeera and Press TV, they succeeded brilliantly.
Besides being completely kept out of Gaza, the media people were deluged as they arrived in Israel with already-prepared “briefings,” with stacks of already-printed “background information” publications, and with organized visits to see the “devastation” resulting from Palestinian rockets in border towns. The media control campaign took advantage of Western journalistic professional norms that emphasize the necessity of reporters seeing first hand; thus, the reporters with jobs with the Western media tended to discount the information and footage that came out through the brave stringers most of the organizations had in the Gaza strip (“we cannot independently confirm these reports”). Their own training and professional values thus worked in favor of the blackout desired by Israel.
The film is shot through with the horrifying and gruesome footage that you saw if you watched Aljazeera — what the Western media would have seen inside Gaza had they been there. For many, seeing this material will be a shocking first.
The film does give the British media executives plenty of time to justify their policies. The narrator, John Snow, is meticulously “neutral” and so does not often call a lie a lie, but leaves the viewer to find the implication.
This film is only 48 minutes long, and the first half can even be used alone. It makes an excellent case study of the broader points raised in Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land. Review • Trailer
James Longley, 2002. VHS and DVD. 74 min.
“A documentary to make the stones weep,” as the Village Voice said. Longley keeps a focus on 13-year-old Mohammed, whose recreation is challenging Israeli tanks. Film stays very close to real people’s lives as we experience one of the world’s cruelest situations. Longley made “Iraq in Fragments” in 2005. Reviews • Website
In a Prison Called Palestine
Free Speech TV, 2002. VHS. 91 min.
Covers a Global Exchange peace-making “reality tour” to Israel and Palestine. A slice of life seen through the eyes of Americans traveling for 8 days on a political tour through the region.
The Iron Wall
Mohammed Alatar, 2006. DVD. 58 min.
One of the best new (2006) films; fine maps, historical summaries. This thorough documentary gives an excellent historical background, as well as conveying an understanding of the scope and intentions of Israel’s huge separation wall project, together with the effects on Palestinians.
Israel’s Secret Weapon
BBC documentary, 2003. VHS. 60 min.
Made while U.S. and U.K. accused Iraq of creating nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu had been in prison 17 years for exposing Israel’s nuclear bomb factory to the world. Tells the story of the Israeli bomb, Vanunu, and Israel’s continuing wall of silence.
Mohammed Bakri, 2002. VHS. 54 min.
Covers Israel’s invasion and near-total destruction of Jenin Refugee Camp in April 2002. At least 56 Palestinians were killed. Human Rights organizations branded Israeli actions as war crimes. Meanwhile, Israel and the U.S. mounted a massive and partially successful spin control operation centering on the word “massacre.” (See also “After Jenin,” above.) Website
Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority
Sufyan and Abdallah Omeish, 2007. DVD. 90 min.
This thought-provoking and powerful documentary on the current and historical causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions. Website
James Dajani and David Michaelis, 2006. Locally-taped VHS. 60 min.
Two journalists, one Palestinian-American, one Israeli, journey to Jerusalem, where each was born. An emotional and intensely personal odyssey ensues in the streets of the contested city. Website
Palestine is Still the Issue
John Pilger, 2004. DVD. 53 min.
Pilger made a classic documentary by the same title in 1977. In this new documentary he returns to the area to ask why the Palestinians remain caught in a terrible limbo, with Israeli military occupation stronger than ever. Pilger says it is time to bring justice, as well as peace, to Palestine. This is one of the best documentary explorations of the Palestinian experience. Website
Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land
Bathsheba Ratzkoff and Sut Jhally, 2004. DVD or VHS. 80 min.
A superb analysis of how U.S. media coverage of the Israel- Palestine question is slanted. Includes a theory of media filtration and a host of well-chosen examples drawn from actual “news” coverage. Commentary by many major figures. See Dispatches: Unseen Gaza above for a case study of this film’s points. Reviews • Website
Hana Abu-Assad, 2002. DVD. 86 min.
A feature comedy. Rana’s father decrees that she must marry before he goes abroad and gives her a list of candidates to choose from. Determined to marry the man she loves, Rana has ten hours to find him and arrange the marriage in the maddening conditions of occupied East Jerusalem. Reviews • Website
Tragedy in the Holy Land
Dennis Mueler, 2001. VHS. 71 min.
Fills a void in accounts of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle by viewing history through the lens of the Palestinians. A provocative documentary that addresses the core issues of land and identity, using rarely seen archival footage. Interviews with numerous experts and scholars. Reviews • Website
Until When . . .
Dahna Abourahme, 2004. DVD. 76 min.
Follows lives of four Palestinian families living in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. They talk about their past and discuss the future with humor, sorrow, frustration and, occasionally, with hope. In the process the viewer gets a deep view of Palestinian lives under occupation. Website
Breaking the Silence: Israeli Soldiers talk about Hebron
2005. DVD. 38 min.
Testimonies of soldiers about their service in Hebron, where the lives of over 100,000 Palestinians are subject to the control of Israeli Defense Force troops protecting a few hundred fanatical Jewish settlers. Film made by the organization of discharged Israeli soldiers who have decided to break the silence imposed by the IDF on their experiences as enforcers of the occupation.
The Children of Ibdaa: To Create Something Out of Nothing
S. Smith Patrick, 2002. VHS. 29 min.
Documentary about “creating something out of nothing” with a children’s dance troupe in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. Shows life in the Camp, and includes a visit by the children to their grandparents’ villages in present-day Israel.
The Israeli Wall in Palestinian Lands
Andrew Courtney and Emily Perry, 2004. DVD. 43 min.
(28 min. version also included). Two American activist filmmakers explore the impact on the wall on the lives of seven ordinary Palestinians. Several perspectives on the wall and on Israel’s objectives are included.
Life Under Occupation — Testimonies from an Occupied Land
Frank Barat, 2008. Online and downloaded DVD. 26 min.
A documentary about life in Palestine and more especially in Nablus, the biggest city of the West Bank. Surrounded by checkpoints, Nablus has seen during recent years its unemployment skyrocket and more and more people living under the poverty line. The picture in the refugee camps is even bleaker. This is the story of Palestinians and Internationals trying to reach out to the world to end Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinians. Website
A number of members and supporters who have traveled to different parts of Palestine and the Middle East are available to speak. Talks with slide or film showings are available. We can help arrange other speakers and participants for panel discussions, some nationally and internationally known, with sufficient notice. Contact us under Films and Speakers in Contacts.
Michele Bahl & Tsela Barr
Michele and Tsela participated in a Madison-Rafah delegation in 2012. Michele has also visited Palestine and Israel with the Interfaith Peace-Builders and the US Campaign to End the Occupation in August of 2008. Michele met with representatives of Israeli and Palestinian civil society, religious leaders, politicians, businesspeople, farmers, students, human rights workers and former combatants. Michele has been concerned about the grave human rights violations that the Palestinians face in the occupied territories and in Israel on a daily basis. Michele was able to see these violations first hand and is interested in sharing what she learned. Many of the Palestinians that Michele met with said they want people in her community to hear their stories because they know they are rarely told in the United States.
George Arida and Kathy Walsh
These members of Madison delegations to Rafah have visited areas including Rafah, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and the West Bank. They have observed and experienced first hand not only the obstacles to every aspect of Palestinian life – the uncertain wait at checkpoints on the way to work or school or to see family, whether you will be allowed to pass at all, the wait for permits required by Israel for travel of just a few miles, or permission to go to a hospital or medical center for treatment – but also the determination and dignity of Palestinians in the face of these impossible conditions. Slideshows are available to accompany their talks.
Our films cannot be used for showings where an admission fee is charged. Some of the films are not licensed for even free public showings. Certain films are VHS format videotapes, as noted. Borrowers take responsibility for returning the films in good condition and for any shipping and postage costs. To discuss a film and a showing, contact us under Films and Speakers in Contacts.
The Madison Rafah Sister City Project was founded in February 2003 and involves a group of concerned citizens in Madison, Wisconsin and the town and refugee camp of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, Palestine working together to forge person-to-person understanding between our two communities. We focus our efforts on humanitarian aid and community education, and expect to build wider public awareness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a lasting relationship that will positively affect the citizens of both cities. For more information, see Contacts.