In an effort to educate the community about the situation for Arabs in the Occupied Territories and Palestinian Authorities, several local organizations collaborated to produce the first Palestinian Film Festival.
The free event, which runs through June 14 and includes 10 films, kicked off may 22 at Emmanuel Mennonite Church with the showing of Jenin, Jenin a documentary by Palestinian director Mohammed Bakri. The film, the first banned by the Israeli censorship board in 15 years, covers the Israeli army’s April 2002 Defensive Wall operation in which 52 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed.
The opening night featured food, a t-shirt sale, and stringing together white paper doves to represent each civilian and coalition death as a result of the war.
Scott Camil, a decorated Vietnam veteran, activist and author introduced the festival.
“We have to get the world to see the suffering of our people,” he said . “I watch these films and they make me cry.”
Camil, who is Jewish went on a fact-finding trip to Israel and came back with pro-Palestine views. He passed around rubber “non-lethal” bullets use by the Israeli army and related stories about Palestinian children who had them lodge in their brains.
The Community Coalition Against War and Terror, Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Nakba ’48, the Civic Media Center and Veterans for Peace co-sponsored the event.
Firas Kobeissy, a UF student who organized the event, said he hopes the festival will raise awareness to the complicated situation. “Our main goal was to be educated about the human injustice going on over there,” he said.
Pierce Butler, CCAWT member, said the Palestinian perspective is misreported and under-reported and said the film series was another way to inform people.’
“We hope that residents and student will be more interested in films than they might be in lectures,” Butler said.
Pastor Eve MacMaster of Emmanuel Mennonite Church said the public needs to have access to these films. “Despite any number of UN resolutions and international laws supporting human rights, Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, have been demonized in the United States for a number of reasons, one of which is lack of information,” MacMaster said. “The film series addresses that concern.
Upcoming films include The People of the Land and Frontiers of Dreams. They show at the Reitz Union, B60, on June 4. On June 7 Checkpoint and Going Home run at the EMC. On June 11, the 1990 Cannes Film Festival Selection Canticle of the Stones tells the story of two Palestinian lovers at the Reitz Union. The Festival ends with Gaza Strips, a 2002 documentary by American filmmaker James Longley, that focuses on the events after the election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, at the EMC on Junr 14.
All showings begin at 7:30p.m. and are shown at either Emmanuel Mennonite Church or the Reitz Union.
For more information visit http://grove.ufl.edu/~nakba48
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.