Palestinian Filmmakers Showcase Resilience at Cannes Film Festival

Thu May 23 2024
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CANNES: Palestinian filmmakers are bringing stories of resilience and urgency to the Cannes Film Festival, highlighting the human rights violations by Israeli forces, human casualties and the power of storytelling.

Veteran Palestinian film director Rashid Masharawi was abroad when the Gaza war broke out last year, so he decided to hand over the camera to other filmmakers still inside the besieged Palestinian territory. “They are the story” of Masharawi’s project, which he presented at the Cannes Film Festival in France, more than seven months after the conflict erupted.

The result, presented at Cannes, is “Ground Zero,” a series of short films documenting the Israeli bombardment and its aftermath from the perspective of civilians in Gaza. “They were fighting to protect their lives, their families, to search for food, for wood to make a fire,” said Masharawi

The films portray the struggle for survival amid destruction, including scenes of families bathing children in makeshift settings and people trapped under rubble for days.

Despite the challenges of remote direction, including communication delays and logistical hurdles, Masharawi guided the Gaza-based teams through the production process, capturing moments of resilience amidst adversity.

“Ground Zero” is part of a broader showcase of Palestinian cinema at Cannes, featuring films like Mehdi Fleifel’s “To A Land Unknown,” which explores the refugee experience in Athens.

While Palestinian cinema lacks a dedicated space at the event, Algeria has provided a platform for Palestinian filmmakers within the international market in Cannes.

Norwegian-based director Mohamed Jabaly emphasized the heightened significance of Palestinian storytelling in the wake of conflict. His latest project, “Life is Beautiful,” takes on added poignancy after the loss of a close friend during the war.

Similarly, Munir Atallah of Watermelon Pictures seeks to elevate Palestinian voices in North America, challenging industry gatekeepers and advocating for broader representation.

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