‘Look At Us’: Film festival turns spotlight on Palestinians’ plight

‘Look At Us’: Film festival turns spotlight on Palestinians’ plight
Palestinians attend the opening ceremony for the Sixth annual Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival in Gaza City on Oct. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
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Updated 13 October 2022

‘Look At Us’: Film festival turns spotlight on Palestinians’ plight

‘Look At Us’: Film festival turns spotlight on Palestinians’ plight
  • Annual event will see 43 productions screened in Gaza Strip, West Bank
  • Organizer says he hopes to ‘remind the world of our suffering’

GAZA CITY: The sixth annual Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival in Palestine got underway on Thursday, providing a platform for local and international productions with a humanitarian message.

This year’s event will see 43 features and documentaries being screened at three venues in the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank. They were selected from about 300 submissions received via the FilmFreeway International platform, which provides filmmakers from around the world with access to major festivals.

The theme of this year’s event is “Choufona” or “Look At Us,” and organizers hope it will shine a light on the violations suffered by Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Executive Director Montaser Al-Saba told Arab News that the message for the international community was to not forget Palestine and its issues amid other global crises like the war in Ukraine.

“We will try to remind the world of our suffering through the festival,” he said.

“It seems that there is a global insistence on the absence of the Palestinian narrative, keeping the violations against the Palestinian people away from the media, and focusing on other issues in the world, despite the ugliness of what is happening in Palestine daily.”

In light of the many Israeli violations against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank, and the closure of human rights institutions, the message to the world was “no to human rights violations,” Al-Saba said.

He added that about 40 percent of the films at this year’s festival dealt with the suffering of Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause, while the rest highlighted humanitarian issues from elsewhere in the world, such as the plight of refugees.

Five of the submissions were produced in the Gaza Strip and were of high quality, he said.

Festival spokesman Saud Abu Ramadan said the event would shine a light on the neglect faced by Palestinians.

“The crime of the occupation does not only mean an absolute evil, but it seeks to isolate the Palestinians humanly, geographically, culturally, legally and at all levels,” he told Arab News.

The “Look At Us” message sought to show that the pain of suffering was the same for all people and that “our rights will always remain alive in the revolution and all its dimensions,” he said.

One of the local entries is an animated film by young Palestinian director Ahmed Saleh, which sheds light on the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Saleh, who lives in Germany, won the Audience Award for his animated short “Ayny,” or “My Second Eye,” at Mizna’s Twin Cities Arab Film Festival in Minnesota, US in 2017.

In the 1970s there were 13 cinemas in the Gaza Strip but since the Palestinian Intifada in 1987 they have all disappeared, a situation lamented by Ramadan.

“The lack of cinema in Gaza is a crime,” he said. “We will say it through the festival to all parties. We need a cinema in Gaza in order to encourage film production and improve the environment for that.

“Through the festival, we give inspiration to young people and local directors to join the art process and produce films that contribute to strengthening the position of the Palestinian cause locally and internationally.”

Ramadan added that films had the power to deliver a message to the world about the Palestinian issue and the decades-long suffering of its people.