Our members have been attending and enjoying the annual Bristol Palestine Film Festival since its launch in 2011. It is now a highly-sought out event in Bristol’s cultural life, with a strong reputation for showing films audiences might otherwise not get to see, raising awareness of Palestine-related issues and promoting Palestinian heritage, culture and talent.
This year the Festival was split between a number of Bristol venues with the program of screenings and talks split between the Watershed, the Cube and the Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre.
Here are the films we saw and a few thoughts.
The Reports on Sarah and Saleem, a tense drama about a love affair between a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman, in the face of social pressures and the machinery of occupation.
The Insult, a social study which explores, through the story of a Palestinian refugee, the historic rifts between different communities in Lebanon and the wounds still festering in the aftermath of the civil war.
Those of us who saw these two films thought they were both excellent and worth seeing more than once; and that The Reports on Sarah and Saleem especially, has wide mainstream appeal.
Opinions were split on Wajib, a comedy about a relationship between a Palestinian father and this estranged son.
As for Tel Aviv on Fire, a story about a Palestinian working on a TV soap opera in Ramallah, who finds a surprising way to deal with the arduous crossing from his home in Jerusalem to the TV studio on the other side of the Israeli checkpoint. The verdict of those who saw this film was that it was whimsical, totally implausible but mildly entertaining.
New Palestinian shorts was shown to a packed audience at the Palestine Museum and delicious Middle-Eastern food was available to buy afterwards (Rita’s vegan maqlouba was to die for!) Contrary to the event title’s claim, the shorts were not all new, some of them dating back as, but they were mostly excellent, and very diverse in content, style and tone – from bittersweet drama to comedy. We were particularly impressed with the documentaries, including In The Land of Oranges (an exploration of exile and longing through the story of two Palestinian sisters in their seventies, forced out from their hometown Jaffa decades ago); Six Miles (a journey with Gaza fishermen, out to bring in a catch at the peril of their lives) and A Drowning Man (the living nightmare endured by a Palestinian refugee on European shores). We were also very taken with Bonbone, a story of love and desire in captivity, inspired by the real lives of Palestinian prisoners and their families.