This year’s London Palestine Film Festival is now in action, kicking off yesterday with the UK’s premiere of Sameh Zoabi’s Man Without a Cell Phone. Running until Thursday 3 May and hosted at the Barbican, SOAS and UCL, the festival is now in its fifteenth year and aims to be “a unique cultural space for UK audiences to engage with the subject of Palestine in fresh and thought-provoking ways”.
In among this year’s highlights are Abu Wael’s second film, Last Days in Jerusalem, following his Cannes-honoured 2004 debut Atash/Thirst, on Wednesday 25 April and Ella Shohat, NYU’s Professor of Cultural Studies and Middle Eastern studies and an unsurpassed expert on Israeli cinema, giving a talk on Thursday 26 April. There are also some archive pieces being shown, including Susan Sontag’s only documentary, Promised Lands, banned by Israel on its original 1973 release. The festival is making a point of addressing contemporary political issues, with a two-day ‘Beyond Palestine’ segment: Hatem Ali’s film on the Assad regime in Syria, The Long Night, will be shown on Monday 23 April and Jordi Ferrer and Pablo Vidal’s work on Western Sahara, The Problem, is on Tuesday 24.
For the last five years, the festival has run an exhibition alongside its film screenings, and 2012 continues this with ‘Navigations: Palestinian Video Art, 1988 to 2011’. On display in the Barbican’s mezzanine, this is the festival’s first exhibition solely featuring video art, and brings together work by artists practicing both with and outside of Palestine, including Basma Alsharif, Taysir Batniji and Manar Zoabi.
Middle East LDN will of course be there, reviewing 30 Years Since The Siege Of Beirut, Marco Pasquini’s documentary on the incredible story of Beirut’s Gaza Hospital, and Mike Hoolboom’s complex, archive-scouring Lacan Palestine.
In the meantime, get excited by watching the festival’s trailer below. For more information about what, when and where, head over to the Palestine Film Foundation’s site here. Tickets for Barbican screenings cost £10.50, though only £8.50 if you buy online, while the SOAS and UCL events are unticketed and offered on a pay-what-you-can basis, so get there early and dig deep into those pockets.