Past screening

Of the People, For the People: Militant Palestinian Cinema

Directed by: Various
Runtime: 1h 45min Certificate: TBC


Directed by: Various
Runtime: 1h 45min Certificate: TBC
Last Screened: Thu 25th Apr 2024

A collection of Palestinian films made between 1960 – 1970 which includes a recently restored version of Jocelyn Saab's 1974 portrait of dignity and steadfastness Palestinian Women, and the timely 1973 Scenes from the Occupation of Gaza.

Since the founding of the Palestine Film Unit (PFU) in 1968, cinema has been central to the struggle for Palestinian liberation. PFU co-founder Mustafa Abu Ali described it as “cinema of the people, for the people. Cinema that is simple and profound at the same time, easy to understand and beautiful.” This selection of films attempts to keep alive the tradition of fierce beauty, celebrating the celluloid commandoes who saw themselves not merely as documentarians of the revolution, but as active participants.

The centrepiece of this strand is the iconic 1974 film They Do Not Exist, recently restored by No Name Cinema. The film is a poetic evisceration of European colonialism through images of survival and revival in the refugee camps of Southern Lebanon. Rescued from the wreckage of Beirut in 1982, the film was smuggled into Jerusalem – reconstituted and restored – for its Palestinian premiere in 2003. Influenced by everything from Palestinian vernacular to European arthouse and Third Cinema, the film went on to define a new era of insurgent filmmaking. The programme includes a recently restored version of Jocelyn Saab’s 1974 portrait of dignity and steadfastness Palestinian Women, and the timely 1973 Scenes from the Occupation of Gaza.

Scenes from the Occupation of Gaza (Mustafa Abu Ali, 1973, 14′)
The Visit (Qais Al-Zubaidi, 1970, 9′)
Palestinian Women (Jocelyne Saab, 1973, 15′)
Our Small Houses (Kassem Hawal, 1974, 23′)
They Do Not Exist (Mustafa Abu Ali, 1974, 26′)

Curated and introduced by Saeed Taji Farouky.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Professor Lina Khatib, Director of the SOAS Middle East Institute at SOAS University of London and the author of Image Politics in the Middle East: The Role of the Visual in Political Struggle (2013), and Dr. Nadia Yaqub, Professor of Arabic language and culture and Chair of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the author of Gaza On Screen (2023) and Palestinian Cinema in the Days of Revolution (2018).