With the Gaza invasion dominating headlines around the world and Israel carpet bombing the Gaza strip, killing scores of civilians, we have complied a list of films that highlight the plight of Palestinians so that people remember the human stories behind the statistics.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a Security Council meeting held on October 24 to discuss the Middle East situation, asserted, “It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished.”
His powerful statement rings true as Palestinians have been suffering under the apartheid rule of Israel for far too long. Palestinian people have tried various ways to raise their voices and tell the world about Israel’s atrocities, which have been ongoing since the Nakba in 1948. One of the most successful methods has been telling real stories through films, dramas, and documentaries.
Here are 10 films that depict how the people of Palestine have suffered for the past 75 years.
The film depicts the true story of a Palestinian girl who survived the Nakba of 1948, when thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homeland. The hopeful young girl who wanted to study in the city watched silently from the pantry of her house while Israeli forces ethnically cleansed her neighbours and other fellow countrymen slaughtered by them.
The movie, directed by Hassiba Freiha and Kenton Oxley, is available on Netflix.
Tale of the Three Jewels (1995)
Set in contemporary Gaza, the movie is the story of a Palestinian boy, Yusef, who becomes entranced with a beautiful Gypsy girl. The children explore nature, mysticism, and their future while learning to live amid the surrounding brutality. To escape, Yusef sets off on a journey to the North American dreamworld with his blind neighbour.
Directed by Michel Khleifi, the movie is available to watch online on various sites.
Children of Shatalia (1998)
Farah, age 11, and Issa, age 12, are two streetwise children living in Beirut’s Palestinian Shatila refugee camp, located in the city’s “belt of misery.” The centre is home to 15,000 Palestinians and Lebanese who share a common experience of displacement, unemployment, and poverty. The two children are given video cameras; they use their imaginations and creativity to come to terms with the realities of growing up in a refugee camp that has survived massacre, siege, and starvation.
Directed by Mai Masri, the movie is available on Netflix.
Omar is a young Palestinian man living in Israeli-occupied West Bank where he must navigate a steep separation wall and checkpoints to visit his friends. Omar sees his horizons diminish after he carries out a sniper attack with his two childhood buddies. He’s captured, imprisoned, tortured, and coerced into becoming an informer for the Israelis but finds he’s not the only traitor.
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, the second film from the Palestinian territories to be nominated for an Academy Award is available on Netflix.
Pomegranates and Myrrh (2009)
The film tells the story of a Palestinian woman who uses Dabke (a traditional folk dance) to cope with the loss of her husband, who is taken away by Israeli authorities. The story talks about the political climate of Palestine and the internal and external sufferings of Palestinians.
Directed by Najwa Najjar, the movie is available on Netflix.
Eyes of a Thief (2014)
The film’s central plot-line is a father’s search for his daughter. As he searches, he not only has to fight against the lack of freedom under occupation but also against social boundaries. Having served a 10-year prison sentence for an attack on Israeli border soldiers, Tarek sets out to find his daughter Malak. When he eventually finds her in Nablus, however, he discovers that she has been adopted. He can’t reveal himself publicly as her father, so he takes a job nearby working as an engineer for the official in charge of water at the Palestinian National Authority to be able to approach her in secret.
Directed by Najwa Najjar, the film is available on Netflix.
3000 Nights (2015)
The film illustrates the plight of political prisoners in Israel. Set in 1980, Nablus, 3000 Nights follows a newly-married school teacher, Layal, whose crime is giving a ride to a teenage boy who is accused of executing a lethal attack on a military checkpoint. Layal is sentenced to eight years in prison, where she spends her pregnancy and gives birth to a boy.
Directed by Mai Masri, the film is available on Netflix.
The Time That Remains (2009)
This semi-autobiographical film tells the story of a father who fought in the 1948 war and chose to stay back when Israelis took over. It depicts the life of Palestinians living as a minority on their own land. The film is divided into four parts.
Directed by Elia Suleiman, The Time That Remains is available for streaming on Apple TV.
The Present (2020)
A father-daughter duo living along the Palestine border sets out to buy a fridge. The pair has to cross the checkpoint, segregated road, and armed soldiers, which involves a stringent checking process to cross the border. The movie depicts the life of Palestinians who can’t do basic daily routine things without facing harassment by IDF soldiers.
Co-written and directed by Farah Nabulsi, the BAFTA Award-winning film is available on Netflix.
When I Saw You (2012)
This story focuses on the heartache of a young boy, Tarek, who wants his father and his state back. He is displaced in a grim camp, with no one to turn to, and proceeds on a journey to turn his life around.
Directed by Annemarie Jacir, the movie is available on Netflix.
If you are interested in the historical context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, take a look at this list compiled by Al-Jazeera.
As Israeli forces bomb Gaza relentlessly to ‘punish’ Hamas, killing thousands of innocent Palestinians, it is important to remember their stories.