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Celebrating Palestinian heritage on the UAE’s big screen

Celebrating Palestinian heritage on the UAE’s big screen

DUBAI: Reel Palestine, a UAE-based film event dedicated to Palestinian movies, is returning for its sixth edition next month. Set to kick off from Jan. 17-25, The weeklong festival will be screening independent Palestinian films in venues across three emirates: Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, the Sharjah Art Foundation in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi’s Manarat Al-Saadiyat.

The pop-up festival, which debuted in 2015, is held in collaboration with independent arthouse theater Cinema Akil in an effort to present Palestinian culture and heritage in an authentic way through a handpicked selection of short films, features and documentaries.

In addition to film screenings, the sixth edition of the film fest will also bring together some of the inspiring film makers responsible for the featured works for Q&A sessions to discuss some of the pressing issues facing Palestinian people.

Among the films set to showcase during the event is the Elia Sulaiman-directed “It Must Be Heaven.” The satirical-comedy film tells the story of a Palestinian man, played by Sulaiman himself, who travels the world but faces the same problems as he would in his hometown. Notably, it won the Jury Special Mention award at the 2019 edition of the Cannes International Film Festival.

Also showing is the 2017 documentary entitled “Soufra.” The production, which was directed by filmmaker Thomas A. Morgan, follows the inspirational story of a generational refugee named Mariam, who, after spending her entire life in the Burl El-Barajneh refugee camp situated south of Beirut, sets out to change her fate by launching her own catering company, Soufra.

Meanwhile, in addition to discovering Palestinian films, guests will also be able to explore a carefully curated collection of unique crafts, souvenirs and items made and inspired by Palestinian traditions at the RP Souk. The week-long marketplace will be open during film screening hours at Cinema Akil in Dubai.

Among the vendors who will be selling their made-in-Palestine products are Rimal Books, an independent publishing house founded by Nora Shawwa and Ayadi by Widad, a Dubai-based platform that sells art, accessories and apparel that is all handmade by Palestinian women. 

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