Arts and Culture Magazine, Marene Gustin, “The Best & Only Palestinian Film Festival in the South,” May 1, 2013.
Excerpts from this great article:
According to the Arab American Institute, Harris County has one of the fastest growing Arab-American populations in the country, with a healthy dose of Palestinian émigrés and second-generation Palestinian Americans.
Houston also has the second-oldest Palestinian Film Festival — the only one in Texas and the entire South.
“The first Houston Palestinian Film Festival (HPFF) was in 2007, so this will be our seventh year,” says Sary Joudah, executive director of HPFF. “The only one older in America is Chicago, which just had its 12thanniversary.” . . .
Today the all-volunteer nonprofit has 3,000 friends on FaceBook.
And the field of Palestinian films gained massive attention last year when the documentary 5 Broken Cameras, a farmer’s chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army, was nominated for an Oscar.
“We showed it last year, before the nomination was announced, to much acclaim,” says Joudah. “Then other theaters here showed it so it really sparked interest in Palestinian films.
“This is really a Renaissance time for independent cinema in Palestine. There are many filmmakers focusing on thought-provoking indie films using very creative ways. And there are a lot of young directors working now.”
Electronic Intifada, “Film Review: Palestinians in Israel honored in debut comedy feature,” May 10, 2012.
CultureMap Pick of the Week!
Arts smart pants and in-the-loop sassy dance maven Nancy Wozny’s pick: “Houston Palestine Film Festival,” May 17, 2012
Nancy says: “Yes, there is a vibrant Palestinian film culture! The Houston Palestine Film Festival got off to a smashing start with Sameh Zoabi’s comedy Man Without A Cellphone at MFAH. Zoabi’s endearing film chronicles Jawdat — a lovable twentysomething slacker and Palestinians citizen of Israel — and the mayhem that follows when a cellphone tower disrupts the village.
“Part comedy and politics, Zoabi’s charming film captures an essence of daily life for Palestinians living in Israel, including everything from girl trouble to passing the Hebrew exam. Newcomer Razi Shawahdeh was terrific as Jawdat. Zoabi was in attendance for the question-and-answer, making it a truly informative experience.
“The Festival continues this weekend at Rice Media Center with Hudud, shorts by 12 Dheishe Palestinian Filmmakers and Five Broken Camerasby Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi on Friday at 7 p.m., and Nadine Naous’Cliches, Vanessa Rousselot’s No Laughing Matter and more on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“Oud music by Adnan Hamdan and a photo exhibit by Khalil AbuSharekh complete the experience.”
Beats and Breath: “Profile: Hadeel Assali co-founder of Houston Palestine Film Festival” by Jackson Allers, July 19, 2010.
Houston Chronicle, “Photos: Houston Palestine Film Festival Party,” Chron.com.
The Houston Palestine Film Festival focuses on cinema that fights against what organizers call “reductively politicized depictions.” Festival organizers, including the two founders, Houston-based Palestinian-Americans Iman Saqr and Hadeel Assali, present a slate of complicated, often surprising films about their motherland. Dramas, comedies and documentaries are all part of the annual screenings, which are often accompanied by visiting actors and directors. But HPFF is more than just a once-a-year event. The festival recently partnered with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to bring films with a Middle Eastern flavor to Houston year round. This summer, filmgoers saw Laila’s Birthday, accompanied by a podcast interview with the director, and Amreeka, with director Cherien Davis in attendance.