The London Palestine Film Festival is back to celebrate another year of Palestinian cinema and storytelling, right in the heart of London. From 17th November to 1st December, audiences are invited to immerse themselves in rich Palestinian history, culture and issues through film and thought-provoking discussions from up-and-coming and established filmmakers.
This year, as the brutal war on Gaza at the hands of the Israeli occupation continues, the films featured offer a unique opportunity to gain insights into the issues that affect the lives of Palestinians today, focusing on stories from and about Gaza. “Spotlighting cinema on and from Palestine is important now, more than ever,” said Khaled Ziada, founder and co-director of London Palestine Film Festival.
“Bringing Palestine’s creativity and expression to the big screen and platforming voices to amplify the Palestinian narrative,” she added. So, whether you want to laugh, cry or learn, here are Amaliah’s top picks from the London Palestine Film Festival this year, plus when and where you can watch them.
When: Friday 17th November at 8.30pm and Saturday 18th November at 4.30pm
Where: Barbican Cinema 1, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS and Institute of Contemporary Arts, St James’s, SW1Y 5AH
The film festival begins with the story of Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian political leader and Nobel Peace Prize nominee who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison. Directors Georgia and Sophie Scott follow Marwan’s family over four years, documenting his hunger strikes, prison visits and more.
2. Bonboné, Bir’em and A Statement of Resistance
When: Sunday 19th November at 7.15pm
Where: The Garden Cinema, 39-41 Parker Street, WC2B 5PQ
Experience an eclectic trio of short films set to make you laugh and cry. In Bonboné, a young Palestinian woman visits her husband in an Israeli prison and devises an unusual way to conceive as they’re unable to have conjugal visits. In Bir’em, a teenage girl spends the summer reconnecting with the memories of her grandfather as she returns to her family’s village, which was destroyed in the 1948 war. Then, in A Statement of Resistance, the animation explores themes of hope, resilience and human spirit in the face of adversity.
When: Thursday 23rd November at 8.45pm
Where: Barbican Cinema 2, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
On a hot, summer day in Gaza, two hairdressers and their eclectic clients, including a bride-to-be, a devout woman and a drug addict, are trapped in a beauty salon while Hamas, a gang, and a lion (yes, a lion) fight it out in the streets outside.
When: Saturday 25th November at 4pm
Where: Institute of Contemporary Arts, St James’s, SW1Y 5AH
Thirty years after leaving her Palestinian village to pursue an acting career in France, Succession’s Hiam Abbass returns home with her daughter, filmmaker Lina Soualem, to explore the history of four generations of Palestinian women.
5. Samouni Road
When: Friday 1st December at 7pm
Where: Central Film School, 72 Landor Road, SW9 9PH
Just outside Gaza city, the Samouni family have a cause for celebration for the first time since the latest war, a wedding. In this film, Amal, Fuad, their brothers and cousins have lost their parents, homes and beloved olive trees, and have to not only rebuild their neighbourhood, but their lives.
The London Palestine Film Festival takes place from 17th November to 1st December. Tickets and more information can be found at LPFF’s official website.
Furvah Shah, 23, is a culture and lifestyle journalist currently working at Cosmopolitan Magazine. Being from a Pakistani, Muslim background, Furvah is passionate about diversifying representations of women, Muslims and ethnic minorities within the media and passing the microphone to underrepresented communities.