Reel Palestine 2017


third edition of the Reel Palestine film festival

is back this month. It's on between 20th - 28th January 2017, screening a selection of the latest in Palestinian documentaries, dramas, short films and comedies.   

The screenings will take place in

Dubai (Alserkal Avenue) and in Sharjah (Mirage City Cinema in Sharjah Art Foundation)

. The festival is free to attend.   

Here's the schedule and line up: 

Friday, 20th January at 7:30pm, The Yard, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai


Dir. Arab and Tarzan Nasser | 2015) | Drama | Arabic | 2015 | 85min

In Gaza, two hairdressers and ten customers of various ages and backgrounds spend the day trapped in a beauty salon while outside, Hamas police fight a gang who stole a lioness from Gaza's only zoo.  

Saturday, 21st January at 8:30pm, Mirage City Cinema, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah


Friday, 27th January at 7:30 pm, The Yard, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai  

3000 Nights

Dir. Mai Masri | 2015 | Drama | Arabic | 103min  

Layal, a newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher, is arrested after being falsely accused and sentenced to 8 years of prison. She is transferred to a high security Israeli women’s prison where she encounters a terrifying world in which Palestinian political prisoners are incarcerated with Israeli criminal inmates. When she discovers she is pregnant, the prison director pressures her to abort the baby and spy on the Palestinian inmates. Resilient, and still in chains, Layal gives birth to a baby boy.
Through her struggle to raise her son behind bars, and her relationship with the other prisoners, she manages to find a sense of hope and a meaning to her life. Prison conditions deteriorate and the Palestinian prisoners decide to strike. The prison director warns her against joining the rebellion and threatens to take her son away. In a moment of truth, Layal is forced to make a choice that will forever change her life. 

Sunday, 22nd January at 7:30 pm, A4 Space, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai

Electrical Gaza

Dir. Rosalind Nashashibi, 2015 | English & Arabic | 18min

In Electrical Gaza Nashashibi combines her footage of Gaza, and the fixer, drivers and translator who accompanied her there, with animated scenes. She presents Gaza as a place from myth; isolated, suspended in time, difficult to access and highly charged.  

Gaza Surf Club

Dir. Philip Gnadt & Mickey Yamine, 2016 | Documentary | Arabic & English | 87min

This film will be screened in conjunction with the short film: Electrical Gaza.  Gaza – a strip of land with a population of 1.7 million citizens, wedged between Israel and Egypt and isolated from the outside world. 42 kilometers of coastline with a harbor that no longer services ships. Hardly anything gets in to Gaza and even less get’s out.
The young generation is growing up with very little perspective - occupied and jobless. But against this background there is a small movement.   Our protagonists are part of the surf community of Gaza City. Round about 40 surfboards have been brought into the country over the past decades with great effort and despite strict sanctions. It is those boards that give them an opportunity to experience a small slice of freedom - between the coastal reminder of a depressing reality and the Israeli-controlled 6 mile marine border. 

Monday, 23rd January at 7:30 pm, A4 Space, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai 

In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain

Dir. Larissa Sansour, 2015 | Arabic | 29min

In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain resides in the cross-section between sci-fi, archaeology and politics. Combining live motion and CGI, the film explores the role of myth for history, fact and national identity. A narrative resistance group makes underground deposits of elaborate porcelain – suggested to belong to an entirely fictional civilization. Their aim is to influence history and support future claims to their vanishing lands. 


Dir. Ammar Al-Beik, 2009 | Documentary | Arabic | 40min

A trail of memories connects disparate places, from the film director in Syria and the artist Samia Halaby who paints and films Ramallah, to Bisan who wanders aimlessly through Jerusalem. Guided by Samia’s paintings of the olives and the wind of Palestine, gathering the stones and soil of Ramallah that are the “words of the Palestinian people,” the film evokes the space of exiled Palestinians. Their gaze, thoughts, and unspoken words become the light of the film that reflects back on the audience.
I received a present from the Palestinian painter and my friend Samia Al Halaby, a stone from an olive grove in the city of Ramallah. This was ten years after I received my first present, a Jerusalem stone, from a Palestinian friend who I used to meet mostly outside of my country, Syria. I have since then collected a wide variety of stones from Palestinian cities in a special album.
It was that year as well that the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, one of the most important characters in the film by Jean-Luc Godard, Notre musique (Our Music), died on August 9, 2008.
Darwish ascended to the heavens, heavy with the wounds of his usurped country, Jean-Luc Godard is still making films and lighting our nights, Samia is still painting and dreaming of her family’s house in Jerusalem, and Bisan, the girl from Jerusalem, is still walking in the alleys of ancient Jerusalem, passing by the surrounding hills without knowing her destination. 

Tuesday, 24th January at 7:30pm, A4 Space, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai

A Series of Palestinian Shorts

The Embroiderers

A selection of Palestinian shorts and documentary's which explores Palestinian embroidery, the impacts of dependance on foreign aid, a brave boy Yazan and a lesser known history of Bangladeshi fights in the PLO.  

  • Abu Ammar is Coming (Dir. Naeem Mohaiemen, 2016, 16 min) 
  • The Embroiderers (Dir. Maeve Brennan, 2016, 23 min)
  • Donor Opium (Dir. Mariam Shahin & George Azar, 2011, 25 min)
  • I Am Not Afraid of the Soldiers (Dir. Rinske Bosch, 2016, 20 min)

Wednesday, 25th January at 7:30 pm, A4 Space, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai  

The Idol

Dir. Hany Abu Assad, 2015 | Drama | Arabic | 100 min

Mohammed Assaf, an aspiring musician living in Gaza, sets a seemingly impossible goal: to compete on the program "Arab Idol." 

Saturday, 28th January at 8:30 p.m, Mirage City Cinema, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah

Magical Substance Flows Into Me

Dir. Juamana Manna, 2015| Documentary | Arabic, English & Hebrew | 68min

A magical substance flows into me opens with a crackly voice recording. The voice is that of Dr. Robert Lachmann, an enigmatic Jewish-German ethnomusicologist who emigrated to 1930s Palestine. While attempting to establish an archive and department of Oriental Music at the Hebrew University, Lachmann created a radio program for the Palestine Broadcasting Service called “Oriental Music”, where he would invite members of local communities to perform their vernacular music.
Over the course of the film, Jumana Manna—herself a Palestinian from Jerusalem—follows in Lachmann’s footsteps and visits Kurdish, Moroccan and Yemenite Jews, Samaritans, members of urban and rural Palestinian communities, Bedouins and Coptic Christians, as they exist today within the geographic space of historical Palestine. Manna engages them in conversation around their music, while lingering over that music’s history as well as its current, sometimes endangered state. She asks these individuals to perform, and they do.
Intercutting these motley encounters with musicians, are a series of vignettes of Manna interacting with her own parents in the bounds of their family home. In fact, the domestic is a trope that is littered throughout this film with recurring kitchen, living room, and elevator scenes. In Manna’s metaphorical excavation of an endlessly contested history, the film’s preoccupations include: the complexities embedded in language, as well as desire and the aural set against the notion of impossibility. Within our hackneyed one-dimensional ideas about Palestine/Israel, this impossibility becomes itself a trope that defines the Palestinian landscape.