Open Your Eyes To The Expansive Realm Of Palestinian Films

There are so many hidden gems in the Palestinian film world, all you need to do to find them is a little bit of research. 

Degrade film

From documentaries to dramas, this list of Palestinian masterpieces contains a film for everyone. If you want to expand your list even further, I would recommend also attending a Palestinian film festival. You can find several all around the world, for example, in Chicago, Boston, Australia, Toronto, Bristol and much more. They are very accessible, fairly affordable. This year, many of them are even virtual! 

Dégradé (Ahmad Abou Nasser, Mohammed Abou Nasser, 2015)

Dégradé, directed by Gazan twin brothers, Tarzan Nasser and Arab Nasser, is a unique and incredible film. Dégradé takes place in a hair salon in Gaza and is narrated by the women who work and hang out there. This film takes a feminist approach to criticizing the political group Hamas and sheds light on the struggles that Gazan women face every day. 

Gaza (Andrew McConnell, Garry Keane, 2019)

Gaza is one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. It truly reaches beyond the media and its portrayal of Gaza to genuinely share Palestinian people’s stories. If you are looking for a true account of what modern life is like in Gaza, then I would say that this film is a must-see. Get ready for some tough scenes, tear jerkers, and last but not least, many empowering and humanizing moments. 

5 Broken Cameras (Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi, 2012)

The footage from this film comes from Mr. Burnat, a Palestinian farmer, who documented the 2007 protests against Israeli settlers. 5 Broken Cameras follows Mr. Burnats life leading up to these protests and is a gorgeous autobiography filled with struggle and beauty. This film is a work of art and an honest portrayal of the Palestinian perspective against Israeli settler colonialism.

Salt of this Sea (Annemarie Jacir, 2008)

This is the first major blockbuster film directed by a Palestinian woman, Annemarie Jacir. Salt of this Sea follows an American-Palestinian woman, Soreya, who travels back to her homeland in Palestine to learn more about her family’s history after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. This film is stunning, heart wrenching, and a must-see for those trying to further understand about the Palestinian diaspora. 

Ambulance (Mohamed Jabaly, 2016)

This documentary focuses on the most recent war in Gaza in 2014 through the viewpoint of an ambulance crew member named, Mohamed Jabaly. This film’s goal is to show a first person account of the recent war which was mostly hidden by the mainstream media. It is powerful and devastating, but incredibly relevant to our times. 

Wedding in Galilee (Michel Khleifi, 1987)

Wedding in Galilee is one of the older Palestinian films on this list. It takes place in a small village right after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. When the mayor tries to put on his son’s wedding past the curfew, he is faced with resistance from the Israeli military. This movie is absolutely gorgeous and was one of the first major films to display a Palestinian point of view, so I would highly recommend adding it to your list. You can even watch the whole film on YouTube!

3000 Nights (Mai Masri, 2015)

This tragic drama is set in the West Bank from the mindset of a Palestinian schoolteacher named Layal. Layal is falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to eight years in prison. While she is in prison, she finds out she is pregnant and has to deal with the harsh cruel prison environment while protecting her child. In the film, the Palestinian women prisoners come together to support and fight back against the oppressive conditions. 3000 Nights is a fantastic film that inspires the strength to fight and keep hope. 

Omar (Hany Abu-Assad, 2013)

Omar is one of the most critically acclaimed Palestinian films and was nominated for the Best Foreign Film category at the 86th Academy Awards. The main character of this film, Omar, is caught in a love affair with a girl named Nadia who ends up getting him in trouble with the Israeli army. Once he’s in prison, he’s tortured and disillusioned. After his release, everything in his life has changed and Omar is left to deal with intense feelings of revenge and loss.

Vivian Bauer

Editor

Vivian is passionate about everything related to music, art, and language. When traveling, she loves to walk for miles, try all kinds of food, and visit every museum. She has lived in Singapore, Belgium, and Brazil while hoping to one day travel to Mongolia and East Timor.

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