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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Media Contact

Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications
503/777-7574
beth.sorensen@reed.edu


The 2004 Portland Palestinian Film Festival, at Reed College March 24-28

Portland, OR (March 4, 2004) - Portlanders will have the rare opportunity to view feature films, shorts, and documentaries from Palestine, as Art Under Occupation : the 2004 Portland Palestinian Film Festival , will be presented W ednesday, March 24, through Sunday, March 28 at Reed College. Highlights of the festival will include several award-winning feature films, including Divine Intervention, Rana's Wedding, and Tale of the Three Jewels .

All films, which will be screened in Reed's Vollum lecture hall, are free and open to the public . For more information, the public is asked to call the Reed events line at 503/777-7755 or visit www.auphr.org/film .

According to Reed junior Dan Denvir, a festival organizer, the festival's purpose is to encourage careful contemplation and thoughtful action on issues in the Middle East, particularly in Israel and Palestine. Media images of the conflict often obscure the humanity of the Palestinians, notes Denvir, a people who, despite and throughout the occupation, go on with life - art, love, ties of friendship and family, sadness, and death.

The Reed College chapter of Amnesty International sponsors Art Under Occupation , with support from the Reed Student Peace Action Network. Portland's Jews for Global Justice, and the local chapter of Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights (AUPHR) provided additional support.

Press note: To receive still images from the films in high resolution digital format or to get further press information on the festival, please contact Dan Denvir at 503/788-1833 or at dan.denvir@reed.edu .

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Wednesday, March 24

Evening, 7 p.m.
Al-Nakba: The Palestinian Catastrophe 1948
Documentary, 1998

Al-Nakba takes the most hotly contested and misunderstood moment of Israeli-Palestinian history and makes it come alive with intellectual clarity and emotional impact. Based on the book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem by noted Israeli historian Benny Morris, Al-Nakba is the first documentary to examine the tragedy that accompanied the birth of the state of Israel in 1948 - the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians. The documentary made its North American premiere at the 1998 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

Palestine is Still the Issue
Documentary, 2002

In this in-depth 53-minute work, award-winning filmmaker John Pilger visits the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel, and asks why the Palestinians, whose right of return was affirmed by the United Nations more than half a century ago, are still caught in a terrible limbo. The Palestinians are refugees in their own land, controlled by Israeli forces in the longest military occupation in modern times. In a series of extraordinary interviews with both Palestinians and Israelis, John Pilger weaves together the multiple facts involved in the issue of Palestine. He speaks to the families of suicide bombers and their victims. He sees the humiliation imposed on Palestinians at myriad checkpoints by a permit system not dissimilar to apartheid South Africa's infamous pass laws. Pilger goes into the refugee camps and meets children who, he says, "...no longer dream like other children, of if they do, it is about death." Constantly seeking a solution, John Pilger says it is time to bring justice, as well as peace, to Palestine. This film is about the Palestinians and a group of courageous Israelis united in the oldest human struggle--to be free.

On the Ground: Witness, Resist, Rebuild
Documentary short, 2003

This 21-minute film, directed by Sean Geary, follows Israeli activist Jeff Halper to the scenes of house demolitions in Jerusalem. The film culminates in Halper's arrest for civil disobedience in a multinational effort to save the Jabari family's home. In that same week, volunteers helped the Shawamreh family build the Beit Arabiya Peace Center on their land, where their home had been demolished on four separate occasions. The contrast between the peaceful work of the builders and the destruction of the bulldozers is a powerful statement in support of peace.

Thursday, March 25

Evening, 7 p.m.
Rana's Wedding
Romantic drama, 2002

Rana's Wedding follows events in the life of a Palestinian girl who must overcome familial and political obstacles, as well as literal roadblocks on the streets of her city, in order to marry the man she loves. While her parents want her to marry a man of their approval, Rana is determined to follow her own path. Facing barriers and occupation that have become an everyday reality, Rana overcomes her fears and doubts, and decides not to let anyone control her life. While not an overtly political film, Rana's Wedding quietly showcases the political complexities and conflicts that interfere with daily life for the Palestinian people.

Friday, March 26

Matinee, 5 p.m.
Frontiers of Dreams and Fears
Documentary, 2001

Award-winning Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri's most recent work traces the delicate friendship that evolves between two Palestinian girls, Mona and Manar. Mona is a resident of an economically marginalized refugee camp in Beirut, while Manar is an occupant of Bethlehem's Al-Dheisha camp under Israeli control. The two girls begin and continue their relationship through letters until they finally have the opportunity to meet at the border during the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon. When the November 2000 Palestinian intifada erupts around them, both girls face heartbreaking changes in their lives. The film was awarded first prize for documentary at the 2002 International Festival of Films by Women in Turin, Italy.

Evening, 7 p.m.
Gaza Strip
Documentary, 2001

In January of 2001, American documentary filmmaker James Longley traveled to the Gaza Strip, planning to stay for two weeks and collect preliminary material for a film about the Palestinian intifada. He threw away his return ticket and stayed for another three months, shooting over 75 hours of material throughout the Gaza Strip. The 74-minute documentary produced from this footage traces a number of people and events following the election of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, including the first major armed incursion into "Area A" by Israel Defense Forces during this intifada. The documentary is filmed in a passive and watchful manner. Content is presented without narration and with little explanation, focusing on ordinary Palestinians rather than politicians and pundits. More observation than political argument, Gaza Strip offers a rare inside look into the stark realities of Palestinian life and death under Israeli military occupation.

On the Ground: Witness, Resist, Rebuild (second showing)
Documentary short, 2003

Saturday, March 27

Matinee, 4 p.m.
Mahmoud Darwish: As the Land is the Language
Art film, 1999

When Mahmoud Darwish recites his poems in Cairo, Beirut, Algiers, Paris, or London, packed crowds come to mouth the verses with him; at times his voice is relayed by loudspeakers to the throng of admirers in the neighboring streets. The film sets out to understand this fervor for Darwish and to share the emotion created by his words and inimitable rhythm, while allowing the viewer to appreciate his work in its totality and its historical and cultural contexts.

Measures of Distance
Art short, 1988

An introductory lecture by Gerri Ondrizek, associate professor of art at Reed College, will precede this film . The lecture will provide information on the life and artwork of the film's creator, Mona Hatoum, a Palestinian refugee who spent part of her life growing up in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Hatoum was educated in London at the Slade School of Art and has received international attention and numerous awards for her artwork. She will be a Steven Ostrow visiting lecturer at Reed College in the fall of 2005, and her work will be exhibited in the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery from August through November of 2005.

In Measures of Distance , Palestinian-born video and performance artist Mona Hatoum explores the renewal of friendship between mother and daughter during a brief family reunion in war-torn Lebanon in 1981. Through letters in voice-over and Arabic script overlaying the images, the viewer experiences the silence and isolation imposed by war. The politics of the family and the exile of the Palestinian people are inseparable in this forceful, moving video.

Evening, 7 p.m.
Divine Intervention
Absurdist feature, 2003

Palestinian director and performer Elia Suleiman delivers a darkly comic Masterpiece in this film. With irreverence, wit, mysticism, and insight, Suleiman crafts an intense, hallucinogenic, and extremely adept exploration of the dreams and nightmares of Palestinians and Israelis living in uncertain times. Divine Intervention follows Suleiman, a character played by and clearly based upon the filmmaker himself. Suleiman is burdened with a sick father, a stalled screenplay, and an unrequited love affair with a beautiful Palestinian woman living in Ramallah. An Israeli checkpoint on the Nazareth-Ramallah road forces the couple to rendezvous in an adjacent parking lot. Their relationship and the absurd situations around them serve as metaphors for the lunacy of larger cultural problems, and the result is palpable bottled personal and political rage. Suleiman's wry chronicle sketches his hometown of Nazareth as a place consumed by ferocious absurdity, where residents harbor feuds, dump garbage into neighbors' yards, and surreptitiously block access roads. Characters transgress rules with abandon. The film's acerbic, absurdist sense of humor (earning comparisons to Jacques Tati and Nanni Moretti), in a situation where death seems to lurk at every corner, and Suleiman's own eye-popping directorial interventions, are what earned him the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes.

Sunday, March 28

Matinee only, 5 p.m.
Tale of the Three Jewels
Feature, 1995

A mixture of realism and allegory set against the backdrop of the Palestinian uprising in Gaza, Tale of the Three Jewels is the story of Youssef, a 12- year old Palestinian boy who tries to win the love of Aida, a beautiful Gypsy girl. Aida offers her heart on the condition that he finds her grandmother's lost jewels. Youssef is so smitten with Aida that he embarks on a mystical pursuit that leads him to a wise old man, a mysterious scroll, death, and resurrection. Youssef's father is in prison and his brother a fugitive from the Israeli army. Despite the violence and fear all around him, Youssef lives submerged in his imagination, often escaping the refugee camp to be with Aida in the sunny Gaza countryside.

This sets him off on an amazing adventure. Nazareth-born writer and director Michel Khleifi ( Wedding in Galilee , Jerusalem Film Festival 1988) is the preeminent chronicler of the Palestinian experience, himself currently living in exile in Belgium. With this film, Khleifi aims to detach from the terror and humiliation of the occupation with a hopeful story of young love. Tale of the Three Jewels is also notable as the first feature film shot entirely in Gaza, with production completed shortly before the Israeli Army began to withdraw under the agreement on Palestinian self-rule. The film was a 1995 CannesFilm Festival entry.

For more information about the 2004 Portland Palestinian Film Festival, please contact Dan Denvir at dan.denvir@reed.edu or 503/788-1833.

Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is an undergraduate institution of the liberal arts and sciences dedicated to sustaining the highest intellectual standards in the country. With an enrollment of about 1,360 students, Reed ranks third in the undergraduate origins of Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915). Visit www.reed.edu for further information.

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