The Houston Palestine Film Festival is starting off its seventh year as strong as ever. This locally grown film festival was built on community donations and volunteers, who have supported the festival since 2007. HPFF won the Best Local Film Festival Award by the Houston Press in 2009 and the Audience Choice Award in 2010. This year the Houston Arts Alliance recognized HPFF’s years of community support and successful programming through a grant. These grants are typically given to organizations that encourage the sharing of distinct Houston cultures.
In an interview with the festival director, Sary Joudah explained that the film festival shares the Houston Arts Alliance vision of increasing awareness for Palestinian culture. Joudah expands, saying that the festival has a multipurpose objective, “One is to give independent Palestinian film makers a place to showcase their work, and the second is that these films discuss social and humanitarian issues that are often stiffly addressed, and we feel that the film medium provides a more appropriate medium.” The festival hopes to grow their programming to more than two weekends in the future.
This year’s festival reaches out to new audiences with their first showing at the Arab American Cultural and Community Center in Southwest Houston. HPFF will be showing Driving to Zigzigland at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, April 30th. The $10 ticket price includes a Q&A session with the director of the film, Nicole Ballivian. Those willing to make a $100 donation to the HPFF will be entered in a raffle to win a signed copy of the DVD, which has not yet been released to the public.
Driving to Zigzigland follows an aspiring Palestinian actor who moves to Los Angeles and drives a cab in post 9-11 America. Joudah described the film as, “a good laugh that delivers a thought-provoking message. The main character educates many people who don’t know very much about the Middle East. Those out here trying to work will connect with the main character through his crazy adventure trying to get by and be on the straight and narrow. People will relate to regardless of their understanding of what Palestine is.” Considering Obama made his first trip to Israel this week, there is not a more appropriate time to support and learn a little more about our Palestinian neighbors. Driving to Zigzigland should be an entertaining and enlightening experience for all.