Dr Anandi Ramamurthy delivered a paper at the Edinburgh International Film Audience Conference (EIFAC) on the 30-31 March 2017. Her paper discussed the ways in which Palestinian cinema is produced and written about as a committed cinema that is shaped by the desire to give voice to the plight of the Palestinian people.
‘Making these films is like unconsciously making documents that can be kept in history and keep your case alive. It’s a way of resistance’ argues director Hany Abu Asad.
In wishing to make their voice heard many Palestinian film makers or film makers of Palestinian origin take an outward facing approach to their films, addressing through language and content an international audience whose opinion they aim to shape or consolidate through the consumption of Palestinian films. However, Palestinian cinema is constrained in its distribution and exhibition by frequent marginalisation in both mainstream as well as independent cinemas in the UK and internationally. It is frequently left to grass roots organisations such as Cinema Palestino in Sheffield, Bristol Palestine Film Festival and Leeds Palestine film festival to invest significant amounts of voluntary time to encourage venues to screen Palestinian films and to mobilise audiences in the UK. One argument by cinema programmers is that there is not a sustained audience for this cinema, yet on many occasions when films are screened they fill small and medium sized cinemas.
This research asks who watches Palestinian films? How are they read by their audiences? and what is their most significant impact? Do these films as Torchin suggests encourage audiences to take responsibility and make a change? (2012) The paper outlines pilot Creative Interruptions research that was carried out in Autumn 2016 by Anandi and Sheffield Palestine Cultural Exchange through surveys and Q&As conducted after screenings of two recently released films: 3000 Nights (Mai Masri) and Ambulance (Mohamad Jabaly). It explores the mixed method that has been adopted and considers how a variety of audiences, those both informed of the Israel-Palestinian situation as well as those that are not well informed, read and respond to these films that aim to develop a Palestinian self-image and tell the Palestinian story.
Dabashi, H. (2007), Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema, Verso
Gertz, N. and Khleifi, G. (2008), Palestinian Cinema: Landscape, Trauma and Memory (Traditions in World Cinema
Torchin, L. (2012), ‘Networked for advocacy: Film festivals and activism’, in D. Iordanova and L. Torchin (eds), Film Festivals Yearbook 4: Film Festivals and Activism, St Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies.