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The London Palestine Film Festival 2012 highlights

Barbican Film
The London Palestine Film Festival 2012
Friday 20 April – Wednesday 25 April
Box Office: 0845 120 7527

From Friday 20 April to Wednesday 25 April, the London Palestine Film Festival returns to the Barbican. Opening with the UK Premiere of Sameh Zoabi’s debut feature, Man Without a Cellphone, the 2012 festival showcases more than 40 works, including a rare journey into the British imperial film archives, Susan Sontag’s striking 1974 film essay on Israel, and brand new drama from Cannes-awardee Tawfik Abu Wael (Atash/Thirst, 2004). With a wealth of filmmakers, critics, and scholars present, and an accompanying groundbreaking exhibition, ‘Navigations: Palestinian Video Art, 1988 – 2011 (Free of charge on the Barbican Mezzanine, Friday 6 – Friday 27 April), this year’s festival offers London audiences the widest array yet of film and video work on, and from, Palestine and the region.

The festival continues at the School of Oriental and African Studies and University College London until Thursday 3 May – please see for more details.

Opening Gala, 2012 London Palestine Film Festival: UK Premiere Man Without a Cellphone (PG*) (Dir Sameh Zoabi, 2011, 78min) + Q&A – Friday 20 April 2012, 7.30pm and Saturday April 21, 3.30pm
Man Without a Cellphone follows Palestinian-Israeli slacker Jawdat, who wants to have fun with his friends, chat on his mobile and find love. Instead he navigates unconvincing dates and wrestles with a Hebrew college exam. When his olive-farming father, Salem, embarks on a struggle against an Israeli cell phone mast he believes is radiating the area, Jawdat’s own phone service is disrupted, jeopardising his dating prospects and setting father and son on a collision course. Zoabi’s (Be Quiet, 2006) feature is a warm and rewarding comedy that deftly welds political satire with generational drama.
+ On Saturday 21 April: Yala to the Moon (Dir Suhel Nafar & Jacqueline Reem Salloum, 2011, 7min)
A delightful short that follows a young girl who peddles CDs on the streets of the West Bank and uses her vivid imagination to magically remake the world around her.

Both screenings will be followed by a Q&A with director Sameh Zoabi. Festival patron Karma Nabulsi will chair the Q&A on Friday 20 April and Carmen Gray will chair the Q&A on Saturday 21 April.

Politics as Art: A Triple-Bill (12A*) – Saturday 21 April, 6.15pm
Three stylish recent works by renowned international artists are brought together in a triple bill:

Sand Creek Equation (Dir Travis Wilkerson, 2011, 25min)
With Sand Creek Equation, US-based political auteur Travis Wilkerson (An Injury to One, 2002; Who Killed Cock Robin? 2005) employs a deceptively poetic style to suggest terrible parallels link the 2008-9 war on the Gaza Strip to the 1864 massacre of Native Americans at Sand Creek, Colorado.
+ X-Mission (Dir Ursula Biemann, 2008, 40min)
Ursula Biemann’s X-Mission video-essay asks after the logic of the Palestinian refugee camp in our times, combining found and documentary footage while testing the ideas of Agamben, Benjamin, Arendt and others concerned with “the state of exception”.
+ End of September (Dir. Sama Alshaibi & Ala’ Younis, 2010, 16min)
In magic realist drama End of September, Sama Alshaibi and Ala’ Younis imagine a Palestinian fedai (fighter) returning to her liberated homeland to face a series of mysterious occurrences that leave her questioning not just where, but also when, she has arrived.

30 Years Since the Siege of Beirut Commemorative Event Co-Presented with MAP – UK Premiere: Gaza Hospital (PG*) (Dir Marco Pasquini, 2009, 84min) + Panel Discussion) – Saturday 21 April, 8pm

Gaza Hospital was established as the main PLO medical centre in 1970s Lebanon. Now, its shell houses hundreds of Palestinian refugee families. Located between Sabra and Shatila camps, this structure has witnessed key episodes in Palestinian history. Drawing on archive film and interviews with ex-staff, Pasquini’s doc artfully recounts the hospital’s story, from its celebrated foundation to its destruction and transformation into a vertical refugee camp.
Presented in partnership with MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians). Followed by a panel with director Marco Pasquini, revolutionary filmmaker Monica Maurer, and veteran Gaza Hospital doctor, Swee Ang.

Ashkenaz (PG*) (Dir Rachel Leah Jones, 2007, 72min) – Sunday 22 April, 4pm

Ashkenaz essays wittily on Zionism’s European hegemonic elites, producing an unsurpassed film portrait of the complex Ashkenazi political and cultural identity. Leah Jones has said of her subject: “Ashkenazim... are Israel’s ‘white folks.’ ... But the paradox of whiteness in Israel is that Ashkenazim aren’t exactly ‘white folks’ historically. A story that begins in the Rhineland and ends in the holy land (or is it the other way around?), Ashkenaz looks at whiteness in Israel and wonders: How did the ‘Others’ of Europe become the ‘Europe’ of the others?”
+ The Choice (Dir Yasin Erik Bognar, 2011, 9min)
A tender short about a father and daughter dealing with grief.

New Palestinian Fiction: Five Short Dramas (12A*) – Sunday 22 April, 6.15pm
Film output in the West Bank has been increasing in recent years. This collection of new dramas showcases work from emerging and established directors there today:

Flower Seller (Dir Ihab Jadallah, 2011, 17min)
Jadallah’s (The Shooter, 2007) Flower Seller is a slick thriller built around collaboration and betrayal.
+ Haneen (Dir Ossama Bawardi, 2011, 18min)
Haneen is a lushly filmed allegory on the themes of nostalgia and longing.
+ The Well (Dir Ahmad Habash, 2011, 15min)
In period piece The Well, Habash (Fatenah, 2009) eschews his previous animation style to tell the story of a father and son seeking refuge in 1948.
+ First Lesson (Areen Omari, 2010, 15min)
Bittersweet comedy First Lesson follows Salma as she swaps Palestine for Paris, only to find unexpected challenges await her there.
+ Birth (Dir Dima Abu Ghoush, 2011, 9min)
Birth by Dima Abu Ghoush (Good Morning Qalqilya, 2004, My Palestine, 2007) unfolds in a Palestinian village during the 1970s, where a daughter is forced to face her fears to help her heavily pregnant mother.

British Colonial Film in Palestine, 1920-1947: Moving Images from the Imperial Archives + Panel Discussion (PG*) – Sunday 22 April, 8pm

A rare chance to explore remarkable film archives from the British colonial era. A selection of works by amateur and professional filmmakers are on show, from Allenby’s triumphant march on Jerusalem, via the “home movies” of troops and officers, to meticulous propaganda designed by political strategists. (Silent films accompanied by commentary from Francis Gooding of the Colonial Film project).
Followed by a panel with filmmaker Kamal Aljafari, art historian Francis Gooding, historian Ilan Pappe, and anthropologist Christopher Pinney.
Co-presented with the Colonial Film project (

Beyond Palestine # 1: Syria – The Long Night (12A*) (Dir Hatem Ali, 2009, 93min) – Monday 23 April, 6.15pm

The remarkable history of Syrian cultural resistance to the Assad regime(s) is celebrated with a screening of this bold critical drama, banned in Syria. A group of political prisoners spend their final night before release after decades imprisonment. As the consequences of their imprisonment for their families outside is revealed, The Long Night powerfully highlights the damage inflicted by the political regime, not just on its immediate victims but throughout Syrian society.
With an introduction by Syrian blogger and activist Wassim Al-Adel.

UK Premiere: Lacan Palestine (12A*) (Dir Mike Hoolboom, 2012, 70min) + Q&A – Monday 23 April, 8.30pm

Mike Hoolboom’s found-footage epic combines a dazzling array of TV news, documentary, fiction, and fantasy film to pave a visual roller-coaster supposing Palestine as a place of cinematic/imperial projections – perpetually conquered in celluloid waves of crusaders, legionnaires, Mongol horsemen, biplanes, and machine guns... More than mere collage, this is a complex, personal, and sometimes challenging essay that ruminates on themes from patricide to John Coltrane, and from the elusive nature of joy to what Hoolboom calls the “loveless love story” starring Moses, Abraham, and Jacques Lacan.
Followed by a Q&A with Director Mike Hoolboom.

My Land (PG*) (Dir Nabil Ayouch, 2010, 85min) – Tuesday 24 April, 6.15pm

My Land meets familiar subject matter with a radical documentary approach, with captivating results. After recording testimonies (personal, historical, and political) by Palestinian refugees, director Ayouch visits their homes in Israel, investigating the attitudes of today’s inhabitants. In a bold intervention, Ayouch then stages virtual encounters, exposing the current inhabitants to video footage of those whose homes they now occupy, and recording their responses.
+ Eid (Dir Saaheb Collective, 2011, 9min)
The eponymous Eid is an artist who boasts a gift for transforming scrap materials. This short uses stop-motion animation and interviews to revel in Eid’s creative process.

Beyond Palestine #2: Western Sahara – The Problem: Testimony of the Saharawi People (15*) (Dir Jordi Ferrer & Pablo Vidal, 2010, 82min) + Q&A (tbc) – Tuesday 24 April, 8.30pm

Nearly five years in the making, this gripping documentary lifts the lid on what has been termed “Africa’s last colony”. Known as The Spanish Sahara under colonization from 1885 to 1975, when Spain left the Western Sahara in 1975, Morocco began its occupation with the so-called “Green March”, re-colonising the territory and disregarding UN calls for a referendum on self-determination. Morocco’s occupation, and the Saharawi people’s resistance to it, continues to this day. This multi-award-winning documentary casts urgent light on this forgotten colonial conflict, on the war being waged against the Saharawi nation’s political and cultural identity, and on the plight and courage of those who dare to resist.
Followed by a screen talk addressing current developments in the Saharawi struggle for self-determination.

Susan Sontag on Israel – Promised Lands (15*) (Dir. Susan Sontag, 1974, 87min) + Introduction by Professor Ella Shohat – Wednesday 25 April, 6.15pm

Shot after the 1973 war, Sontag’s only doc was banned by Israeli censors. Inexplicably overlooked since, it astutely records a critical point in Zionist history and a key moment in Sontag’s own thought – completed just as she penned her critical essays “On Photography”. The film traces fault lines in a jaded but mobilised Israeli society, combining interviews with observational meditations on landscapes, military patrols, cinemas, cemeteries, psychiatric wards, and national museums.
+ The Beautiful Language (Dir Mounir Fatmi, 2010, 17min)
The Beautiful Language by Moroccan visual artist Mounir Fatmi examines racist violences and empire by digitally manipulating fragments from Truffaut’s 1970 L’Enfant Sauvage – in which an “uncivilized” child is studied and “civilized” by an 18th Century aristocratic doctor.
Promised Lands will be introduced by film scholar and critical theorist Ella Shohat.

Last Days in Jerusalem (18*) (Dir Tawfik Abu Wael, 2011, 84min) – Wednesday 25 April, 8.45pm

When Abu Wael won the 2004 Critics Prize at Cannes with his debut feature, Atash (Thirst), Sight & Sound declared him “the most exciting Arab filmmaker to have emerged in more than a decade”. This greatly anticipated follow-up tells the story of a Palestinian couple preparing to leave East Jerusalem for Paris. When an accident forces Iyad, a surgeon, to delay their departure, Nour begins to question their move. An intimate drama, Abu Wael’s latest depicts the couple’s wrenching final days as they attempt to tear themselves away from home.
+ Diary of a Male Whore (Dir Tawfik Abu Wael, 2001, 14min)
Diary of a Male Whore was made while Abu Wael completed university; it tells of a young Palestinian refugee working as a prostitute in Tel Aviv and was met with outrage as well as plaudits in 2001.

Ticket prices: Box Office: 0845 120 7527

Standard: £10.50 / £9.50 online
Members: £8.50 / £7.50 online
Concessions: £8.50
Under 15: £6.00
Monday Madness: all new release tickets £5.00 online

* Local Classification
# Certificate to be confirmed

About the Barbican
The architecturally renowned Barbican Centre is one of the world's leading arts centres, founded and run by the City of London Corporation. It encompasses dance, film, music, theatre, visual arts and creative learning who work together in creating the model of tomorrow's international arts and learning centre. Committed to providing a world-class programme, which inspires, challenges and amazes its audiences, the Barbican is also home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Associate Producer Serious and a range of Artistic Associates. For more information visit


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