Ten shorts by young Palestinian women filmmakers screen in Geneva

Denied travel permits, two filmmakers are unable to attend, but join the discussions on Skype

Events and Festivals, Palestine

Ten shorts by young Palestinian women filmmakers screen in Geneva

Short films by Palestinian women filmmakers screened at a focus on Palestine: To Film is to Exist at the Film Meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, from November 28 to December 1.

Ten films produced by Shashat Women Cinema were screened, among which six made by young women filmmakers from the Gaza Strip, and four by young women filmmakers from the West Bank. Seven films received major training and production support from the European Union, whose support for Shashat since 2008 has assured that young Palestinian women are able to make their first steps in filmmaking.

Three of the young women filmmakers were invited to attend the festival: Liali Kilani from Nablus, Athar Jdaili from Gaza City, and Alaa Desoki from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. 

Neither Jdaili nor Desoki were able to attend the festival due to the closure of the Rafah crossing and not being able to get a permit to exit through the Erez crossing. They, however, took part in a Q&A after the screening of their films as well as a filmmaker roundtable via Skype. 

“[Members of the audience] were surprised to see such well-made films with such new and fresh ideas from young Palestinian women," said filmmaker Liali Kilani, who attended the festival. "They praised our films because each film had a ‘twist’, a funny or clever idea, and they appreciated that even under the conditions of occupation we, the young women filmmakers, can have such hope and love of life.”

She wished that her colleagues, the other young women filmmakers, were there to see the audience's interest in their films: “These small films we worked so hard on, now we see how appreciated they are, that our hard work is acknowledged.” 

The ten films selected for the festival are:

Cut!, 2012, by Athar Jdili, on electricity, Gaza’s much awaited visitor. When it is 10 pm the neighborhood splits into two: one is ready to welcome this visitor after an eight-hour absence, and the other is rushing against time to bid adieu to it. 

Connected to this is Noise! 2012, by Alaa Desoki.  “We in Gaza wake up to generators, funerals, ambulances, shelling, merchants… Noise is the legitimate negative offspring of our situation which makes people violent and aggressive, unable to communicate with each other resulting in our alienation from one another.”


Jdili and Desoki had also collaborated in 2011 on Sardine & Pepper, which explores Gaza’s relationship with sardines and pepper, and how this relation intertwines with and expresses how it feels to live in Gaza. 

In Out of Frame, 2012, Reham Ghazali, from Gaza city, focuses on Ibaa and Rihaf, two Gazan young women who grew up dreaming of a society in which they can be part of its hopes and aspirations. But the two of them clash head on with a reality harder and crueler than they had imagined and end up feeling "outside the frame".

Rana Mattar, also from Gaza city, also exposes another harsh Gazan reality, in It looks pretty... but, 2013, of the magically beautiful sea and its distorted and polluted details.

Another exploration of Gazan life is by Eslam Elayan from Rafah, and Areej Abu Eid from Nuseirat, Kamkameh, 2011, and how it has become a culture of hiding both personally and socially….”masks and sticks, the darkness of day, above the sky and under the ground.”

In If they Take it!, 2012, Liali Kilani from Nablus tells us that there are different forms of resistance. For Um Ayman, resistance is to stay at home and take care of it as her and her family’s life “has been turned into a hell, full of fear and terror, as settlers have ferociously attacked her land, home and orchards.”  

Another film by Kilani, My Cousin, 2009, focuses on a Palestinian girl's hopes to visit her country’s capital, Jerusalem. In My Lucky 13, 2009, by Dara Khader from Jenin, this clandestine journey is told, “torn between emotional anxiety, danger and the challenge of reaching the heart of the homeland.”  

Najah Musallam from Ramallah pays tribute to Palestinian painter Nabil Anani in Jerusalem in Colors, 2009. He "can enter Jerusalem because of his older age, but he refuses to visit the city while it is occupied, so, he brings Jerusalem to him through a painting full of his old memories of the city.”

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