Toronto Palestine Film Festival: Telling the Story Through Film
BY: Ameera David/Contributing Writer
The festival that sold over 4,500 tickets with several jam-packed shows is back for a second run. From September 26th -October 2nd, the Toronto Palestine Film Festival (TPFF) will showcase 34 Palestinian films from an array of genres including fiction, documentary, shorts, and experimental.
The festival came to fruition in 2008 when a group of Palestinian social activists were looking for a way to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Nakba. Rather than hold a series of conventional lectures, they wanted a medium of communication that would allow the Palestinian narrative to extend its reach to a more diverse audience. “Film is an artistic way to tell the Palestinian story because it can showcase such a wide range of emotions from sadness to humor”, says festival organizer Dania Majid.
Amongst the collection of movie showings will be three films never before shown on screen in the US and Canada. “Checkpoint Rock: Songs of Palestine” (Directors, Javier Corcueran/Fermin Muguruza) spotlights the stunning talents of the contemporary Palestinian music scene. The film documents the musical attributes of Palestinian rappers, wedding singers, and classical musicians as they express their personal struggles through music.
Also premiering is “I am Gaza” (Director, Asma Beseiso) which examines the long-term psychological and social impacts of war on Gazans and the challenges they face in reconstructing their lives. And finally, “Easy Easy” (Director, Riyad Deis), is a story that highlights a Palestinian farmer and his family as they come to know and learn about the revolutionary ideas of a resistance fighter who hides out in their home.
In addition to presenting Palestinians on screen, the TPFF has added a segment that will afford attendees the opportunity to hear and participate in introspective dialogue. The festival will host three discussion panels, covering topics such as stereotypes in cinema, film and the art of resistance, and emerging avenues of Palestinian art.
Other newly added segments include “Sahtein! Film and Food Brunch”, a presentation of food-themed short films followed by a traditional Palestinian brunch and “Jewels in the Machine” (Curator, Reena Katz), a group exhibition of new media artworks that embody the various gradations of Palestinian existence.
In adding different cultural components to the festival, organizers hope to expose non-Arabs to a Palestinian humility that is usually hidden by defamatory mainstream media. Majid says “We see ourselves as instrumental in helping film makers who undergo great difficulties in getting their films out of Palestine.” Majid refers to the problems Palestinian directors often incur in order to film and distribute such works under occupation.
Although festival organizers have yet to see the reaction of patrons to the films, they know one thing is certain: with 34 films, three discussion panels, and an art exhibition, attendees are guaranteed to relate to many of the themes presented, and are furthermore in for a good time.
To purchase tickets and see film schedule, check out www.tpff.ca.