PALESTINE FILM CLUB: LONDON LAUNCH
Short Film Screening + After Party
Sarha Collective recently held the UK Launch of Palestine Film Club - a collective comprised of filmmakers, producers, artists and others dedicated to the production and growth of a homegrown Palestinian film industry. PFC are a network of industry professionals who aim to support and inspire one another through the promotion of Palestinian cinema, both domestically and on an international stage.
In September 2018 at Rich Mix London, we brought you eight beautiful short films - the first in a programme of film screenings that will run regularly and showcase the best and boldest new work from filmmakers across the Arab world and beyond. The aim is that every screening we hold here - or in another European city - will be held in Palestine at the same time. We are taking this global!
Our lineup included fiction and non-fiction shorts from Palestine, the UK and Yemen, including a number of never-before-seen UK premieres! Our filmmakers included rising new talents who are taking international cinema into the future.
We were very lucky to be partnered with wonderful The People's Film Club who bring people together to watch great films that tell the stories of people around the world. They pair these films with speakers who understand the subjects best - filmmakers, activists, academics and community organisers - in order to start important discussions around issues that affect us all.
After the screening, we were joined by the team behind Haifa Independent Film Festival, along with reps from PFC London and Sarha Collective, for a panel discussion about the Palestinian film industry and some of our plans for the future, including a filmmakers’ exchange programme between the UK and Palestine which will be held in 2019.
After the screening, Palestinian DJs Jazar Crew came to London for the very first time to play a set. Jazar Crew is a DIY music and art collective that aims to provide a safe-space dance floor for Palestinian youth. With their revolutionary parties around the region, they have built bridges between the Palestinian underground scenes in Haifa, Ramallah and beyond. Following on from a wildly successful collaboration with Boiler Room, they have been touring across Europe and came to London from Haifa as a special treat for the PFC launch.
A SOLO SHOW BY MOMIN SWAITAT
Alien Land is a devised solo show inspired by 'The Secret Life of Saeed: The Pessoptimist', the first science fiction novel in the Middle East. Performed in Arabic with English subtitles, it is a dark comedy which looks at life under occupation and the contemporary refugee experience from a radical new perspective.
As both a Bedouin and a Palestinian refugee from the 1948 Nakba, the show is built around performer Momin Swaitat’s family history and folklore. It draws on his memories of growing up in a world turned upside down by the violence and disruption of the Second Intifada – when his neighbourhood became an overnight battle zone, schools were closed and there was widespread curfew.
Fusing the ancient Arab tradition of the hakawati (travelling storyteller) with hallucinatory physical theatre sequences, mask and mime, it is a tale of love, loss and exile which will leave audiences unsure of which time, place or universe they have landed in.
Alien Land opened at VAULT Festival in London, January 2018 and is currently on tour. Sign up to our mailing list to keep updated.
Momin Swaitat is a Palestinian actor, writer and director who has trained at the Freedom Theatre, Jenin and LISPA, in London and Berlin. He has performed in numerous shows with the Freedom Theatre, working alongside director Juliano Mer Khamis on productions such as Animal Farm, Alice in Wonderland, Fragments of Palestine and Waiting for Godot which toured in major theatres in Europe and the U.S. He has collaborated with acclaimed directors such as Thomas Ostermeier (Schaubühne Theatre) and Rufus Norris (The National Theatre), as well as writing and directing several solo and ensemble pieces in Palestine and abroad. He was recently selected for the 2017 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab and for the Arcola Theatre Residency Programme. Alien Land is his first professional production in the UK.
Lighting Design : Andy Purves
Sound Technician : Noora Said
AN INTERDISCIPLINARY SHOWCASE ON THE FUTURE OF PALESTINE
‘Chapter 31: An Odd Piece of Research on the Many Virtues of the Oriental Imagination' was curated by Nadia Jaglom and Mai Kanaaneh. Our launch project took audiences on a journey into utopian and dystopian visions of the future of Palestine as imagined by sixteen artists. The exhibition took its name from a chapter in a satirical novel by celebrated Palestinian author Emile Habibi in which an alien invasion allows the protagonist to consider the impact of Israeli colonisation on the Palestinians who have remained behind in historic Palestine.
Included in the show were new commissions in film, sculpture, installation, photography, collage and painting made by artists living and working in historic Palestine, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and throughout the wider diaspora. This was accompanied by a programme of events, including workshops, film screenings, musical and theatrical performances.
Since 1948, much of the diverse body of work that has come out of Palestine has dealt - whether directly or indirectly - with the personal and political consequences of the Nakba and Israeli colonisation. Due in part to the numerous assaults on Palestinian culture, history and identity over the years, examining and retelling the past has taken on a vital importance.
We have long been interested in considering what impact these and other narratives about past and present Palestine have had on different concepts of a near or distant Palestinian future. However, the main aim of ‘Chapter 31’ was to give contributors the freedom and space to consider the future of Palestine in new, experimental ways without having to first and foremost justify their right to exist.
At the core of the project was a wish to move away from the familiar representation of Palestinians as either militants or victims by introducing UK audiences to some of the many creative forms that the Palestinian struggle can take. By including artists, architects, performers, filmmakers and scholars in our exhibition, Sarha Collective set out to showcase the complexity of what Palestine is, as well as the range of possibilities of what it might be in the future.
We support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and, as such, do not accept funding or sponsorship from Israel or any organisations / individuals that support the occupation or receive funding from the Israeli government. We oppose normalization and co-existence projects which do not call for an end to occupation and Israel’s recognition of the rights of all Palestinians - within the ‘48 borders, in the West Bank, Gaza and in exile - under international law.