Netflix is expanding its reach to the Palestinian entertainment industry and have dropped an influx of fresh critically acclaimed Palestinian films for everyone to watch!
The critically acclaimed film, 3000 Nights was made in 2015 and is directed by Mai Masri. It is about a young Palestinian school teacher, Layal who dreamed of creating a life for herself in Canada with her husband Farid. Unfortunately, fate has other things in store for her.
During the heightened conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, Layal is falsely accused of breaching laws and gets sentenced to eight years in prison for presumably acting as an accomplice to a teenage boy who is said to have attacked a military checkpoint.
Layal goes to a women’s prison that inhabits Palestinian and Israeli inmates’ side by side, it shows the internal conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in prison as there is no cordiality amongst one another.
Furthermore, in prison, Layal finds out she is pregnant, and going against her husband’s wishes, decides to give birth to her son, Nour in prison. This results in Layal’s husband abandoning her and leaving her to go to Canada.
Layal finds hope through her child, Nour, and attempts to seek love through, Aymen, a Palestinian imprisoned doctor.
In a flux of events, Layal and Nour are separated, with Nour outside in the world and Layal still in prison serving her term, Layal attempts to regenerate hope and awaits the day where she will meet her son again.
Ghost Hunting is a 2017 documentary film created by Raed Andoni which shows Palestinian prisoners reliving, recreating and attempting to diminish their trauma from their time at the Moscovia Detention Centre. It attempts to get over their PTSD and diminish their trauma by a group binding effort.
The protagonist of this film, Ramzi, discusses his time at the detention center. He was held hostage in 1997 for one year and brutally interrogated by the Israeli guards because they were believed to be Palestinian spies.
In one scene, Ramzi is held in a choke position and is interrogated:
“Who do you belong to?” “No-one.” “Ramzi, don’t force me to be violent!”
Another man discusses how he was held in the detention center for 90 days and was abused by the guards.
This documentary gets it all right; this film attempts to recreate the torture and how they were treated in the detention facility. For example, the exact same cells of the prisoners are made.
Moreover, it displays how the prisoners are locked up with a bag over their head and chained symbolizing how they were treated as barbaric animals in the center.
In the film, they also display all the inmates beating their door in a rhythmic order and sing songs of freedom, freedom for when they will be released and will be able to live as a free citizen in their country.
In asking Raed Andoni of why he created this film, he states:
“What’s inside you, you beat, or it beats you.”
This documentary film aims to help the prisoners cope with their trauma and not allow it to swallow them allowing them to live a free life. They will beat that aspect by group integration with other inmates and realize their self-worth.
This film discusses the vulnerable mental health of Palestinians and the injustice that they go through and while watching this movie, it will help people understand the importance of raising voices for Palestinians.
Salt of this Sea
Salt of this Sea is a 2008 Palestinian film directed by Annemarie Jacir, it is a critically acclaimed film as an official selection in Cannes International Film Festival 2008 and submission to the 81st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film.
This film is about a young American-born Lebanese woman with Palestinian roots, Sourya, who goes to Israel to reclaim her grandfather’s heritage in Haifa, Israel.
Sourya has always dreamed of going to Israel and regaining her family’s lost identity and rights.
When Sourya lands in Israel, she is interrogated by the Israeli airport security, with her no-nonsense attitude she gets into conflict with the guards because she is tired of being scrutinized of her Palestinian identity, she is interrogated of her reasonings to come to Haifa because they believe she is a spy.
In Israel, Sourya becomes friends with a man, Emad who wants to leave Israel and go to Canada, and he proclaims that he is a prisoner in his own country.
Furthermore, Sourya goes to the bank for her grandfather’s money. For pretext, in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the Israelis took over the lands of Palestinians, their heirlooms and possessions.
The bank proclaims that they do not have her grandfather’s money and all the money is gone from the bank. Sourya is angry at the bank because she says that her grandfather worked hard for his money, and they are responsible for the loss of her grandfather’s
Sourya, angered over this treatment knows that all of this is false, and they are keeping the money for their own benefits, robs the bank.
In the film Emad and Sourya, two conflicting people form a relationship, and he helps her along her journey in Israel.
Emad and Sourya visit her family home and when Sourya reaches her home, she is overwhelmed with emotions upon seeing her home, she kisses it goodbye because she knows that she will never get it back.
In the end, Sourya realizes the degrading impact and the injustice that has occurred in history, the erasing of identities and of people because of their religion and background.
Sourya accepts this notion and proceeds to move forward and promises to make a change.
“Where are you from, I’m from here, where?, Palestine.”
When I Saw You
When I Saw You is a 2012 Palestinian drama film directed by Annemarie Jacir. This critically acclaimed film won Best Asian Film at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.
This film is set in Jordan 1967, after the Six-Day War. It cordially starts off with the main protagonist, Tarek asking a girl, “Will you marry me?” and she replies, “You’re just a boy.”
Starting the story off from an innocent angle, it dives deeper into the troubles of Tarek’s life.
The main story is about 11 year old Tarek and his mother Ghaydaa who works in a sewing factory in the camp, every time there are new refugee trucks, she asks if there is any news from Bayt Nuha because she lost her husband there.
Tarek is a weak student in school and is stubborn as he always wants to find his father, “look towards the sun, that is where father is,” is what Ghaydaa tells Tarek to stay optimistic.
Tarek tired of his suffocating life in the camp, runs away from home and symbolically follows the sun, with darkness coming along, Palestinian soldiers come to find Tarek alone and take him under their wing.
In the camp, Tarek is taken as a mascot and envisions himself as a fighter. He is an innocent boy and does not realize what they are doing, all is fun and games for him.
Later, Tarek’s mother finds him with the soldiers and attempts to take away Tarek from the area, but he is adamant to stay. Ghaydaa, depressed of the grim camps decides to stay with Tarek in the camp and becomes friends with the fighters.
This story focuses on the heartache of a young boy who wants his father and his state back, he is displaced in a grim camp, with no one to turn to and proceeds on a journey to get his life back.
Maradona’s Legs is a Palestinian short children’s film directed by Firas Khoury. This story is set during the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
It is set in a Palestinian village and is about two siblings, Rafat and Fadel who are huge fans of the Brazilian football team.
The children are looking for the last piece of their football sticker book, the legs of Argentina striker, Diego Maradona. This is a competition, if they can complete their book, they will be the first to do so in their village and will be granted a free Atria.
These kids are filled with innocence, they go around town asking everyone for the legs of Maradona, many children laugh at them and say that it is impossible to find the legs of Maradona.
In funny instances, the children get themselves in trouble with other children and run away to save themselves from lying about giving stickers in return for the legs.
In the end, with the resilience of the children, they finally find the picture and can finally rest.
This film is a breath of fresh air, and it is primarily made for kids.
Why Should You Watch?
Netflix is giving Palestinian artists a platform to speak up about their issues using the art of films.