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Festival Ciné-Palestine: France looks to preserve Palestinian cultural memory

Festival Ciné-Palestine: France looks to preserve Palestinian cultural memory
Festival Ciné-Palestine: France looks to preserve Palestinian cultural memory Copyright Festival Ciné-Palestine -
Copyright Festival Ciné-Palestine -
By David Mouriquand
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From the French cities of Marseille to Paris, more than 40 films have been selected for the tenth edition of the Festival Ciné-Palestine, which runs from 30 May to 16 June.


The tenth edition of the Festival Ciné-Palestine, which opens in Marseille today (Thursday 30 May) before moving on to Paris (7 June) and Ivry-sur-Seine (16 June), is showcasing the lost archives of Palestinian filmmakers documenting the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Dedicated to Palestinian cultural heritage, the festival features short and feature films, conferences, as well as archival footage.

None of the 45 films selected were made after the Hamas attack on 7 October; however, the festival denounces the precarious living conditions that Gazans have endured for decades.

“We're delving into the archives, but the idea is not to take our eyes off the Gaza Strip,” Morgane Ahmar, co-organiser of the event, told AFP, referring to an “ongoing genocide”.

“Memory and struggle interact, the idea being to show the perpetual Palestinian resistance,” added Ahmar.

Le retour d'Aida by Carol Mansour
Le retour d'Aida by Carol MansourForward Film Production

Several films shown are based on family archives (Lina Soualem’s documentary Bye Bye Tiberias, which questions how memories define our present selves); others tell deeply personal chronicles (Aida Returns by Carol Mansour, which wrestles with individual and collective memory with regards to Palestinians prevented from returning home - even after death); and some even embrace different genres like horror (Rakan Mayasi’s short film The Key – which sees the equilibrium of an Israeli family gradually unravel as the mysterious sound of a key is heard every evening at their front door).

One highlight of the festival is Frah Nabulsi’s The Teacher, which follows how a Palestinian schoolteacher struggles to reconcile his commitment to political resistance with the possibility of a new relationship with a volunteer, and the emotional support he gives to one of his pupils.

Many films selected this year highlight the festival’s efforts to showcase lost footage which disappeared after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, especially footage recovered and restored by archivists.

"We have given priority to films made by Palestinians, with the idea that they can reappropriate their own stories, continues Ahmar. "They should not always be seen as fighters."

Journey Into Gaza
Journey Into GazaAndolfi

One exception is Journey Into Gaza, a documentary directed by the Italian filmmaker Piero Usberti. The film is assembled from old images and sees Usberti meet with Gazans (aid workers, lawyers, communists). He criticises the oppressive conditions imposed on Gazans by the Islamist regime of Hamas, while emphasizing his perspective as a foreigner and how every human life deserves empathy.

Not that it will all be a dour affair, as there is a place for humour – even in the darkest of times.

“We didn't just want to show the suffering and pain, but also the joy and humour that can be found in everyday life, particularly among children,” says Mathilde Guitton-Marcon, co-organiser of the festival. “Because, paradoxically, humour often shines through in these productions.”

Festival Ciné-Palestine runs from 30 May to 16 June. Click here for the full programme. Check out our selection of eight films to better understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict here.

Additional sources • AFP

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