The London Palestine Film Festival

Image Credit: Ahmed Abu Hameeda on Unsplash

Mony Aramalla overviews the upcoming London Palestine Film Festival.

The London Palestine Film Festival will be held this year over two weeks from the 17th of November. This cultural phenomenon is a yearly occurrence and celebrates the heritage of Palestinian filmmaking. Standing out from other film festivals, the London Palestine Film Festival offers the audience an insider view into the world of Palestine and serves two purposes: to showcase the filmmaking process and to emphasise the radicalisation of political instability in Palestine. 

Standing out from other film festivals, the London Palestine Film Festival offers the audience an insider view into the world of Palestine and serves two purposes: to showcase the filmmaking process and to emphasise the radicalisation of political instability in Palestine.

This year’s exhibition consists of many social, cultural and political showcases. Given the political situation in Israel and Palestine, this film festival is more relevant than ever in its quest to shed light on the atrocities and movements that are the driving force of the conflict in the Gaza Strip. We tend to talk about what seems to be in the news about these conflicts, but do we genuinely know what life is like for a person living through the war? This means that the relevance of the London Palestine Film Festival is at an all-time high. We get the stories of survivors, martyrs, and justice seekers who use these films as a means of appealing for help. This year, particular emphasis will be on films and documentaries from real-life protestors, activists and civilians.

Tomorrow’s Freedom: Directed by Georgia and Sophia Scott and produced by Sawsan Asfari, this film captures the life of Marwan Barghouti who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli Prison. This story is a heartbreaking rendition of Barghouti’s life and his family, exploring the impact of his stance against the injustice faced by people in his society. Filmed as a documentary, the Scotts shadowed Barghouti’s family, and learnt about his difficult prison conditions, hunger strikes and his family’s struggles to visit him. The movie is produced and directed as a political and cultural statement about the dynamics of the war between Israel and Palestine, cleverly exploring the horrors and struggles of life there.

R21/ The Reel No.21: By director Mohanad Yaqubi, R21 is a series of 20 x 16 mm films, that are currently in protection in Tokyo, as a stand for justice by the Japanese for the Palestinians. The film’s premise consists of an unpublished letter of solidarity curated by a Japanese activist that never reached Palestine. The film explores the contents of the letter, based on the found pieces and weaves a compiled narrative of what the activist wanted to express in this lost letter. Unlike Tomorrow’s Freedom, R21 is very much like an archive and the pieces of the letter make up a story that needs to be told. It forges a link between Japan and Palestine and becomes a reminder of what other nations must aim to do, to end the atrocious struggles of innocent Palestinians. 

21/11 Twelve Beds: A startling reminder of the innocent lives lost due to the ongoing war in Palestine. 21/11 TWELVE BEDS takes a journey into the horrific memory lane, in which children became brutal martyrs of Palestine’s Revolution. Reine Mitri uses this film as an anchor to display the dangerous existence of orphans, who ended up becoming heroes of revolution, by being sacrificed in their homeland. Gripping, disheartening and thought-provoking, the viewer is bound to sympathise with the children, who found their place, only to be killed by ongoing conflict. The memorial for these children still stands, and yet, the current situation in Palestine reminds us that history is bound to repeat itself, as proven by the innocent lives claimed by war. The Israeli bombing of Gaza has wiped away entire generations of families. Many children are living in fear of dying, something no child should endure. 

The London Palestine Film Festival features several more entries, ranging from fiction to documentaries, which address the impact of conflict on the lives of Palestinians in one way or the other. All films are cultural commentaries; they unveil the reality through their fictional and real characters. The London Palestine Film Festival presents the heritage and current crises of Palestine with jarring truths. We don’t frequently hear about these stories, because nobody is in the position to share them with us. This year, it is more critical than ever to provide a platform to these films, considering the one-sided stories or propaganda we may hear. With first-person narratives, detailed documentaries and descriptive images, these films remain intertwined with the history of Palestine, making the London Palestine Film Festival the perfect place to tune in for some real news.