Palestinian Cinema Takes Center Stage at Cannes With These Six Compelling Stories

Gracing the screens of the Cannes Film Festival are some of the finest international films of the year. The Middle East alone has 13 films taking part in related and unofficial film initiatives happening in parallel to Cannes.

Along with that are poignant and rich stories centered around Palestine. We would like to introduce to you some of those Palestinian stories that will bring over a cataclysmic ripple in the cinematic world:

To a Land Unknown

Palestinian-Danish director Mahdi Fleifel introduced a story that revolves around the desperate attempt of two Palestinian cousins to find their way to Germany after getting stranded in Athens.

Their life is an endless cycle of strenuous journeys, as before arriving in Athens, they were stuck in a refugee camp in Lebanon. The film interplays between being an edgy thriller as well as a deep introspective exploration of the lives of migrants.

The special film will get its world premiere in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes.

The Deer’s Tooth

Placing a lens once again on refugee camps and migrant life, The Deer’s Tooth by Saif Hammash is his first short film. Viewers will join a young man from a refugee camp during his journey to make his brother’s only wish come true. It is a simple wish to throw his milk tooth into the sea. The special short film will get screened in the La Cinef category.

Palestine Comedy Club

Giving us a new and fresh look into Palestine is an unfinished documentary by Alaa Aliabdallah all about Palestinian comedians on tour. He follows the lives of five comedians on tour, taking close note of their daily routines as well as the unexpected dark humor surrounding the complexity of Palestinian identity.

My Father’s House

This is yet another unfinished Palestinian documentary that will get to see the limelight by getting screened at Cannes. The documentary is all about a relationship between a father and his son as well as a deep dive into themes of memory and exile.

Its protagonist makes a return to the town of Elsinore in Denmark, the town where he grew up, and begins to go back through past memories as well as grieving his father’s death.

The Myth of Mahmoud

With her trusty camera, Palestinian director Mayar Hamdan documented the lives of her maternal family in Doha and unraveled the life of Hamdan’s mother, Amal, as she grieves the loss of her husband. Hamdan’s mother also faces another difficult moment, a daunting decision after she receives an “end of service” letter after 60 years in Doha.

Unmaking of

Showing the power of a camera in documenting real life, Bilal Alkhatib, a filmmaker from Palestine, gets to document a film that never got made. A couple of days before shooting a movie that was supposed to be directed by Cherien Dabis, the war broke out in Gaza.

Alkhatib used this as an opportunity to follow the studio crew for a week to document the impact of the war on artists and the challenging realities that come with it.

Each of these films introduces different aspects and angles of Palestinian life, whether it is the consequences of the war on the lives of Palestinians explored through themes of migration or the upturned nature of artists trying to create art amidst an ongoing genocide.

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