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Houston Palestine Film Festival

Houston Palestine Film Festival
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The Houston Palestine Film Festival launches its fifth year this weekend and this kind of wealth of film deserves your attention. Over the next two weekends a combination of short films, and fictional narratives unfold at the Rice Media Center and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Click here for the full schedule.

Over the next ten days many of the films will feature receptions or Q&A’s with directors or people involved with the films. A party closing night (5/21) at the Nouveau Antique Art Bar (2913 Main) promises to put things in perspective. Announced attendees include Eyal Sivan (director of Jaffa, The Orange’s Clockwork), Sama Alshaibi (director of short End of September), and actor Jose Maria de Tavira (The Imperialists Are Still Alive!).

Obviously the thematic content of these films are about the Palestinian experience a subject given short shift in regular movie programming. Although there are films out there dealing with similar subjects they tend to be foreign or specialty titles like Miral or A Prophet. Check out the upcoming movie Incendies (from Canada, and a contender for this years best foreign film Oscar) for an example of an excellent film dealing with the Middle East and its complex issues. In the meantime, the HPFF is the place to be.

End of September (at the RMC as part of a series of shorts on 5/14 at 7 pm.) unwinds in a surreal almost fragmented manner as we watch a woman on a bus relive flashbacks of her life. The roadblock scene surely gets its facts right.

Zeinna Dura’s The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Festival, offers slice of life realism coupled with the Palestinian experience. A conceptual artist in NYC hooks up with a new boyfriend and meets friend around town while she anxiously awaits news of her family who are trying to evacuate from Beirut during a military offensive from Israel.

At the very beginning of TIASA lead actress Elodie Bouchez appears naked before the audience asking them not so much to ogle her as to understand her plight. Born in France but of Cyprus and Lebanese descent she goes from party to art opening to date to lunch, all the while interacting with people from all over the world. The magic of this film is how rapidly Bouchez assimilates the attitudes of Arabs as well as Mexicans and Asians. The film offers quiet moments where people who look anything but activists are sitting in a limo discussing human rights. The Imperialists Are Still Alive! will be the festival’s hot ticket with its cool altruistic attitude and one-time showing.

– Michael Bergeron