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17 Palestinian Films coming to Netflix

Films ranging from science fiction, documentary to romantic dramas will be coming to the global streaming service in October.

Jerusalem24 – Earlier this year the Oscar-nominated Palestinian short film, “The Present,” debuted on Netflix to grand acceptance. The film by Palestinian-British filmmaker Farah Nabulsi tells the story of Yusef, played by renowned Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, and his daughter Yasmine, played by young actress Maryam Kanj. The events unfold when the two of them set out to the occupied West Bank to buy Yusef’s wife a gift.

For those that enjoyed The Present, more Palestinian films will be coming to the streaming giant. With some of these films being short, while others are full feature length as well as some documentaries. Below is a list of 17 films that will be available to watch on Netflix starting from the 14th of October.

1. Salt of This Sea

Salt of this Sea is a 2008 Palestinian film directed by Annemarie Jacir and was an Official Selection of the Cannes International Film Festival in 2008. It is Palestine’s submission to the 81st Academy Awards for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film stars Palestinian-American poet Suheir Hammad as Soraya, an American-born Palestinian woman, who heads to Israel and Palestine on a quest to reclaim her family’s home and money that were taken during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Palestinian actor, Saleh Bakri also stars in the film.

2. A Drowning Man

Written and directed by Mahdi Fleifel, this 2017  film tells the story of “The Kid.” Alone and far from home, The Kid makes his way through a strange city looking for the means to get through his day. Surrounded by predators he is forced to make compromises merely to survive, his life of exile grows one day longer. This 15-minute short competed at the Cannes Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, was a Best Short Film nominee at the BAFTA, won the Muhr Best Short Award at the Dubai Film Festival and was an official selection at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.


3. Frontiers of Dreams and Fears

Released in 2001, this documentary film directed by Mai Masri, Frontiers of Dreams and Fears offers a rare glimpse into one side of the Middle East conflict. Frontiers of Dreams and Fears explores the lives of a group of Palestinian children growing up in refugee camps. The film focuses on two teenage girls, Mona and Manar. Although living in refugee camps miles apart, the girls manage to communicate and become friends with each other despite the overwhelming barriers separating them. The film reveals their lives and dreams and their growing relationship, at first through email, then culminating in their dramatic meeting at the fence that separates them at the Lebanese/Israeli border.


4. A Man returned

This 2016 love story is the second film on this list from director Mahdi Fleifel. A Man Returned tells the story of 26 year old Reda. His dreams of escaping the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain El-Helweh ended in failure after being trapped in Greece for three years trapped. He returned to life in a camp being torn apart by internal strife as a war from Syria crawls ever closer. All while he is suffering a heroin addiction. A Man Returned premiered in the Rotterdam International Film Festival, won a Silver Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, took the Grand Prize of the Winterthur International Short Film Festival, was nominated as the Best Short film at both the Vienna Independent Short and European Film Awards.

5. When I Saw You

When I Saw You is a 2012 Palestinian drama film directed by Annemarie Jacir. The film was selected as the Palestinian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards. It won Best Asian Film at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, NETPAC award. Together with his mother, Tarek has to flee from Palestine to Jordan. Having been separated from his beloved father in the chaos of war, Tarek has difficulties adjusting to life in a refugee camp between thousands of tents and prefab houses. Tarek decides to leave the camp on his own account and to look for his father. His longing for a better life, his curiosity and his courage lead him to a group of like-minded people who he encounters in the desert. Together they embark on a journey that will change their life forever.

6. Children of Shatila

This 1998 documentary film by award-winning director Mai Masri presents two Palestinian children, 11-year-old Farah and 12-year-old Issa. The setting of the film, the Shatila Refugee Camp is home to 15,000 Palestinians and Lebanese who share a common experience of displacement, unemployment and poverty. Fifty years after the exile of their grandparents from Palestine, the children of Shatila attempt to come to terms with the reality of being refugees in a camp that has survived massacre, siege and starvation. Masri focuses on two Palestinian children in the camp: Farah, age 11 and Issa, age 12. When these children are given video cameras, the two streetwise children, use their imagination and creativity to come to terms with the realities of growing up in a refugee camp that has survived massacre, siege, and starvation.

7. Divine Intervention

Divine Intervention is a 2002 film by Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, which may be described as a surreal black comedy. The film consists largely of a series of brief interconnected sketches, but for the most part records a day in the life of a Palestinian living in Nazareth, whose girlfriend lives several checkpoints away in the West Bank city of Ramallah. One lyrical section features a sunglasses-clad Palestinian woman, played by Manal Khader, whose passing by not only distracts all eyes, but whose gaze causes Israeli military checkpoint towers to crumble. The director features prominently as the film’s silent, expressionless protagonist in a performance that has been compared to the work of Buster Keaton, Jim Jarmusch and Jacques Tati. The film is noted for its minimal use of dialogue, its slow pace and repetition in behavior by its characters. Divine Intervention was nominated for the “Palme d’Or” award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

8. The Crossing

Filmed in Tulkarem in the West Bank, this 2017 short film is directed by Ameen Nayfeh. It tells the story of Shadi and his sister Maryam, who are very excited to visit their sick grandfather on the other side of the wall. Their older brother Mohammed, arrives in a hurry with the permit to cross. They arrive at the checkpoint, to discover that sometimes having a checkpoint is not enough to let them pass. The film stars Motaz Malhees, Yara Elham Jarrar and Nicholas Jarad.

 9. Paradise Now

Paradise Now is a political and psychological drama film directed by Hany Abu-Assad about two Palestinian men preparing for a suicide attack in Israel. It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category. The 2005 film follows Palestinian childhood friends Said and Khaled who live in Nablus and have been recruited for attacks in Tel Aviv. It focuses on what would be their last days together. The film took the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival’s Amnesty International Film Prize, the Best Screenplay award from the 2005 European Film Awards, the Best Foreign Film Award at the 2005 Vancouver Film Critics Circle and several other recognitions and awards.

10. Chronicle of a Disappearance

Chronicle of a Disappearance is a 1996 drama film is the second film on this list by Palestinian director and actor Elia Suleiman. Suleiman stars in the film along with his family members, his relatives, and other non-actors. Dhat Productions produced the film. The film features no real storyline or character arc. Suleiman plays himself returning to Israel and the West Bank after a long absence which is followed by a series of barely connected vignettes and sketches, which are intended to convey the feelings of restlessness and uncertainty from Palestinian statelessness. The film’s tone varies through these scenes such as “Nazareth Personal Diary”, which has a light and domestic tone, and “Jerusalem Political Diary”, which has a more ideological tone. Chronicle of a Disappearance was Suleiman’s first feature film. It has received international critical acclaim and was shown at the 1996 Venice Film Festival, where it won the award for Best First Film Prize.

11. Maradona’S Legs

Written and directed by Firas Khoury, this 2019 film takes place during the 1990 World Cup. Two young Palestinian boys are looking for “Maradona’s legs”; the last missing sticker that they need in order to complete their world cup album and win a free Atari. This short film premiered in the Palm Springs International ShortFest of 2019. It also won several awards, including Best Screenplay at the 2020 Festival du Cinéma européen de Lille in France, the Audience Award at the 2020 Tampere Film Festival of Finland, the Best Short Film Award at the Mediterranean Film Festival Split in Croatia in 2020 and several others.

12. 3000 Nights

3000 Nights is a 2015 internationally co-produced drama film directed by Mai Masri. It was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The film focuses on a Palestinian woman, who whilst in jail, gives birth to a son. It was selected as the Jordanian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards but it was not nominated. It presents the life of Layal, a young schoolteacher who lives with her husband, Farid in the occupied West Bank town of Nablus, Palestine. They are preparing to leave for Canada in search of a new life when Layal is arrested and falsely accused of helping a teenage boy suspected of attacking a military checkpoint. When she refuses to testify against the boy in court, Layal is charged with being an accomplice and sentenced to 8 years in prison despite the staunch defense put up by her human rights defense lawyer.

13. In Vitro

Directed by Søren Lind and Larissa Sansour, this 2019 feature is filmed in black and white, IN VITRO is a sci-fi based in the aftermath of an eco-disaster. An abandoned nuclear reactor is converted into a huge orchard under the biblical town of Bethlehem, and a group of scientists are preparing to replant the soil using heirloom seeds collected days before the apocalypse. It stars award winning actress Hiam Abbas and Maisa Abd Elhadi. The film was commissioned by the Danish Arts Foundation for the 58th Venice Biennale

14. Bonboné

This 2017 dramatic comedy is directed by Rakan Mayasi. It tells the story of a Palestinian couple who resort to an unusual way to conceive as the husband is detained in an Israeli jail where visits are restricted. It stars Saleh Bakri, Rana Alamuddin and Nadira Omran. The film premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2017.

15. Three Logical Exits

This 2020 film directed by Mahdi Fleifel takes place in the summer of 2019. When Fleifel went back to the Ain el-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon to visit his friend Reda, who was also the subject of his previous film, A Man Returned. When Mahdi arrives, thousands of Palestinians have just taken to the streets to protest against discriminatory measures by the Lebanese government. A sociological meditation on the different ‘exits’ young Palestinians choose in order to cope with life in the refugee camps.

16. Ghost Hunting

This 2017 documentary, directed by Raed Andoni who places a newspaper advertisement in Ramallah. He is looking for former inmates of the Moskobiya interrogation centre in Jerusalem. In his ad he asks that the men should also have experience as craftsmen, architects or actors. After a casting process that almost feels like role play, he arranges for a replica of the centre’s interrogation rooms and cells to be built to scale inside a hall – under close supervision from the former inmates and based on their memories. In this realistic setting the men subsequently re-enact their interrogations, discuss details about the prison, and express the humiliation they experienced during their detention.

17. Ave Maria

This 2015 comedy directed by Basil Khalil, tells how the silent routine of 5 nuns living in the West Bank wilderness is disturbed when an Israeli settler family breaks down right outside the convent just as the Sabbath comes into effect. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film at the 88th Academy Awards in 2016.

Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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