The Festival Ciné-Palestine 2018: indelibly celebrating Palestinian cinema in Paris.

 

Brought together by a perennial and voluntary group of film buffs, passionate about Palestinian cinema, the 4th annual film festival of the Festival Ciné-Palestine (FCP) was once again a crowning success.

This year’s film festival took place from 25 May to 3 June. Twenty-seven films were screened, including two French premieres. Audience numbers reached nearly 2000 to watch 22 screenings on the programme in our five partner cinemas: Luminor Hôtel de Ville and 3 Luxembourg in Paris, Melies in Montreuil, Ecran in Saint Denis, and Studio in Aubervilliers.

FCP is driven by its ambition to showcase Palestinian film directors, discover and launch emerging talent so they can give the present another side of History and tell their own stories, and deconstruct stereotypes about Palestine. FCP has the will to raise the awareness of the increasingly wider public concerning the quality and singularity of Palestinian cinema and fill the gap in distribution that persists in France.

By listening to our public and responding to the expectations from the artists, the film festival has evolved this year to become bigger and has broadened considerably its mission both in numbers and in the diversity of events offered to the public.

Highlights of the 4th annual film festival

Focus “NAKBA”

©Stéphane Burlot       

©Stéphane Burlot ©Paul Belin ©Paul Belin

In focus this year for FCP was 1948 and the Nakba, since our 4th festival coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Nakba “Disaster”, a key event in the history of Palestine. The Nakba signifies ethnic cleansing, displaced populations and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages during the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

FCP 2018 has placed the Nakba in the spotlight of its programme, letting Palestinian film directors open up and give their own accounts of their experiences of this collective trauma, which was capital to the history of Palestine and its identity.

Nakba In Focus offered different films and initiatives illustrating the two major issues of this important moment in History.

Maaloul Celebrates Its Destruction (1985, 30') by Michel Khleifi and Emwas, Restoring Memories (2016) by Dima Abu Ghoush are two films that deal with how legacy is passed down, creating and protecting an entire population’s memories.

In We Began by Measuring Distance (2009) by Basma Alsharif and Restored Pictures (2012) by Mahasen Nasser-Eldin, these film directors offer an opportunity to meditate on the past and the present by questioning the ways successive traumas are represented and looking back on the images that remain from 1948.

This moment of questioning the different ways the Nakba has been represented was followed by a round table discussion in cooperation with the De-Colonizer Association, which presented a work of a reconstructed map of Palestinian villages destroyed between 1948 and today.

During the In Focus event, we zoomed-in on the experimental film work of Kamal Aljafari. Through The Roof (2006) and Recollection (2015) and a Master Class, this film-maker shared his reflexions with the public on the themes of disappearance and dispossession caused by the Nakba.

Finally, the closing night screening of Les Dupes (1972) by the Egyptian film director, Tawfiq Saleh, which is an adaptation of Man in the sun (1963), a work by Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, the festival offered a wider outlook on issues of exile and the right for Palestinian refugees to return home, an issue which is unfortunately still a hot topic.

Mai Masri retrospective

©Stéphane Burlot
​FCP was honoured to welcome its patron, Mai Masri, and to offer the public a retrospective on her career as a documentarian. In Les Enfants du feu (1991) and Les Enfants de Chatila (1998), she brings to the screen the lives of Palestinian children and highlights the conditions of the lives of refugees, and refugee camps in Palestine and Lebanon.

We also paid tribute to Jean Chamoun with the screening of Reves suspendus (1992), a film which Mai Masri codirected. She also gave a Master-Class moderated by Monica Maurer.

The 2nd Official Short Film Competition

©Stéphane Burlot

What started out as a simple means of encouragement for young Palestinian film directors during its first competition at the Palestinian film festival in Paris in 2017 has evolved to become an Official Competition.

After having received shorts films from more than thirty candidates, it was an honour to select six shorts films and present them to the jury and to the public: four short fiction films, Bonboné (2017) by Rakan Mayasi, Drowning Man (2017) by Mahdi Fleifel, Madam El (2017) by Laila Abbas, Rupture (2017) by Yassmina Kharaja, a docu-fiction Your father was born 100 years old, and so was the Nakba (2017) by Razan AlSalah, and Memory of the Land (2017), an animated film by Samira Badran.

The films were screened to two full houses at 3 Luxembourg cinema on 29 May, giving the public a chance to appreciate once again this year, the creativity of the contemporary Palestine film scene. The screenings were followed by a prize-giving ceremony. The winner of the Jury Prize received €2000 offered by our partner TV5MONDE and 185 members of the public voted for the Public’s Choice Prize.

This year’s winner of both prizes was Bonboné, by film director Rakan Mayasi. A special mention was also made to Laila Abbas for Madam El.

We extend a very warm thank you to the members the jury for their attentiveness and cordiality: Ossama Bawardi, Mai Masri, Monica Maurer, Pierre Menahem and Charlotte Uzu.

Industry Days, a first for the festival

This year we launched a new event, the FCP Industry Days. One hundred and twenty members of the Palestinian and international film industries came together at the Paris Artist Residencies (Cité internationale des arts) on 28 and 29 May

The inaugural Industry Days were organized in cooperation with FilmLab Palestine, a Palestinian NGO that works towards developing and enhancing the Palestinian film industry.

We have also been able to count on the financial and logistical support of major partners: AFAC (Arab Fund for Arts and Culture), the French Consulate in Jerusalem, Paris Artist Residencies in Paris, CNC, the Arab Cinema Centre, Paris City Hall and the Foundation (un Monde par tous).

The main aim of this industry event was to promote Palestinian film and discuss the conditions of producing and distributing. This inaugural event was a true success and many Palestinian film directors came specially to Paris to attend and seize the opportunity to present their projects to producers, distributors, festival organizers and cinema operators who were also present.

FCP’s aim is to become an incubator of Palestinian cinema, connecting people, projects, expertise and experience.

Open-air cinema

  

FCP 2018 joined forces once again with Ecran cinema, Voyageur cinema and the Saint-Denis City Hall to organize an open-air event on 1 June on the forecourt of the Saint-Denis Basilica. Two hundred people braved the rain to turn out and enjoy this convivial evening open to all.

The free open-air screening of Rough Stage (2015), a documentary by Toomas Jarvet was followed by a dance performance by Maher Shawamreh who is also the central character in the film. The evening began with two concerts by Mohamed Najem and Rasha Nahas and a Palestinian-style meal prepared by the Palestinian chef, Rania Talala.

This was once again a very popular event with the public, who responded to our dual aim of promoting Palestinian film and turning film back into a popular art form.

A Night at FCP

On Saturday, 2 June from 7.00 pm to 2 am, Studio cinema in Aubervilliers screened a long sitting of the full three parts of a documentary saga. This was a new experience for festivalgoers and gave them the

opportunity to discover or rediscover on the big screen Route 181, fragments d’un voyage en Palestine- Israël (2003), directed by Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan.

During the intervals, the film directors met and talked with the public, a light meal of Palestinian food was offered and those who stayed until the end of the programme were treated to coffee and dessert. A Night at FCP was a rare opportunity devoted to an emblematic work of Palestinian cinema over a long and lovely evening.

Festival Ciné-Palestine at Cannes

Marking 70 years since the Nakba, this year was also marked by a symbolic turning point for the Palestinian film industry. For the first time ever, an official Palestinian delegation attended the Cannes Film Festival and a Palestine Pavilion was set up at the Film Market from 9 to 18 May 2018.

The initiative backed by the Palestine Film Institute (PFI) and supported by the Palestine Ministry of Culture provided the opportunity to present 10 projects (five fiction films and five documentaries) to the Producers Network.

FCP took the initiative to bring together 10 Palestinian Film Festivals to embrace Palestine and Palestinian film during the Cannes Film Festival.

This novel encounter launched the Cannes 2018 Palestine Film Festival Cocktail, a networking event which took place on 13 May at the Palestine Pavilion. The event was co-organized by: Al Ard [doc] Film Festival (Cagliari), Boston Palestine Film Festival (Boston), Bristol Palestine Film Festival (Bristol), DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival (Washington DC), Doha Palestine Cinema Festival (Doha), Festival Ciné-Palestine (Paris), Haifa Independent Film Festival (Haïfa), Nazra Palestine Short Film Festival (Venice), Palestine With Love Brussels (Brussels) and Toronto Palestine Film Festival (Toronto).

This initiative is a response to our common goal of actively supporting ways to develop and enhance the Palestinian film industry, illustrated by the efforts of all these film festivals throughout the world including Festival Ciné-Palestine Paris, all dedicated to promoting Palestinian cinema.

Palestine With Love

FCP also provided support to the 1st Palestinian film Festival in Brussels, Palestine With Love, co- organized by BOZAR and Galeries Cinema, which took place from 3 to 10 June 2018.

This festival presented fiction films and documentaries, which have marked the history of Palestinian film and contributed to keeping Palestine in the limelight such as Palestine a People’s Record (1984) by Kais Al Zubaidi, Noce en Galilée (1987) by Michel Khleifi, The Reports on Sarah and Saleem (2018) by Muayad Alayan or 3000 Nights (2015) by Mai Masri.

This first film festival in Brussels sought to be a multidisciplinary event and offered a platform to Ghayath Almadhoun, Selma Debbagh and Karim Kattan to share literature; Kais Al Zubaidi, Saleh Bakri, Amber Fares and Ula Tabari to discuss resistance in Palestine films; Rafeef Ziadah and Jazar Crew to represent the vitality of the contemporary music scene.

FCP is very proud to be a partner of the Brussels film festival which is already considered to be an event not to be missed on the Palestinian cultural calendar.