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The Stork Delivers Films to Palestine

We would like to welcome you in the fourth annual edition of Al-Kasaba International Film Festival. Between 8 and 22 October we will have the opportunity to enjoy watching films, welcoming guests to Palestine, and participating in open discussions with film directors.

The joys brought by the festival will be tempered by a soberness as we remember those cultural icons who are no longer among us. At the opening of last year’s festival we missed the great poet Mahmoud Darwish and theatre director Yaqoub Ismail. This year we will miss the founder of Palestinian Revolution Cinema, Mustafa Abu Ali.

This year’s festival is dedicated to Mustafa Abu Ali: he who refused to be honoured at the opening of the first festival. He announced then: “I am not honoured by receiving a statue to be put on a shelf. My real honour is when I see the light of my film emerging from the projector in a dark screening hall. I will be truly honoured when our officials keep their promise to support Palestinian cinema.”

Excuse us, Mustafa! We insist on honouring you, and as we believe that you are still alive among us, we hope that you will accept it this time. We are joining our voices with yours in calling on the officials to be attentive to and increase their support for culture and art. Culture and art cannot remain a future project waiting for political and economic stabilisation. Culture is an integral part of development and state-building.

Al-Kasaba International Film Festival 2009 will present 65 films from 24 countries: 51 feature films, 13 documentaries, and an animation film. We have worked hard this year to bring recent, award-winning productions from all corners of the world – Hong Kong, Turkey, New Zealand, South Korea, France, Japan, Egypt, Netherlands, Britain, South Africa, Canada, United States of America, Italy, China, Jordan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Tunisia, Portugal, Iran, Spain, Brazil, and, of course, Palestine.

This year’s festival will open with the Palestinian film Amreeka by Cherien Dabis who will join us for the opening ceremony. The producers chose to screen the official Middle East premiere of Amreeka at Al-Kasaba International Film Festival.

The festival is built on three axes: “Panorama,” which will present 54 features and documentaries; “A Look at Iranian Cinema” presents 7 films; and “Between the Fall of a Wall and Building Another,” which will include films on the Berlin Wall marking the 20th anniversary of its fall and films on the Israeli Occupation and the ongoing building of the apartheid Wall on Palestinian land.

The 2009 festival expands on last year’s experiences and welcomes the participation of distinguished Arab and international artists. Of these most-welcomed guests we mention Tunisian actress Hind Sabri, Egyptian film director Yousry Nasrallah, Egyptian film director Nadia Kamel, Moroccan directors Saad Chraibi, and Nabil Ayyoush. We are also glad to welcome Mr. Thierry Frémaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival, French actress Jane Birkin, and French director Simone Bitton. Joining us also will be Juneid Ahmad, a film director from South Africa, Cherien Dabis, a Palestinian film director.

The festival will take place in the Palestinian towns of Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nablus. As we have always sought opportunities to work and cooperate with Palestinian refugee camps since the establishment of Al-Kasaba, screenings of participating films will travel to the refugee camps of Jenin, Dheisheh, Jalazon, Balata, and Aida.

Finally, we would like to thank all those who support this festival, in particular, the European Commission, the Administrative Council of Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture 2009, and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. Also we would like to thank our partners: French General Consulate, French Cultural Center, Goethe Institute, The British Council, Japanese Representative Office, Spanish Cooperation, Brazilian Representative Office, Portuguese Representative Office, Tunisian Representative Office, and Moroccan Representative Office. Also we would like to thank the Palestinian organisations we cooperate with: Palestinian Civil Affairs Authority, Palestinian National Theatre – Jerusalem, Cinema City – Nablus, An Najah National University – Nablus, The International Center of Bethlehem, Children Happiness Center – Balata, Ibdaa Center – Dheisheh, Al-Rowwad Center for Culture and Theatre – Aida, social Youth Center – Jalazon, and Freedom Theatre – Jenin.  

The festival is Al-Kasaba’s contribution to mark Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture 2009, to break the siege on our people, and to broaden awareness of the Palestinian culture and arts arena. We hope for success in achieving these goals.

Khaled Elayyan

Festival Director