Feature: Palestinian cinema festival opens with Oscar-nominated film

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-06 20:52:45|Editor: Xiaoxia
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by Fatima Aruri

RAMALLAH, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- Palestine Cinema Days, the sixth annual cinema festival, opened this week in the West Bank city of Ramallah with an Oscar-nominated film directed by Elia Suleiman amidst wide support and anticipation.

The festival organizer Film Lab Organization said that the festival is themed with gender-based violence and offers an opportunity of interaction with several local and international filmmakers and producers to promote cinema culture and awareness over violence against women and fragile social strata.

The festival spokesperson Khulud Badawi told Xinhua that the festival is promoting that "despite of all the abuses of our rights, we insist on our basic right of access to culture, production and cinema, and despite the very poor infrastructure that we face, we insist that we are the best producers, we have our productions, our film and filmmakers that we are proud of."

"This is the stage, the event where we present what we produce to the world," Badawi said referring to the festival's purpose.

The opening film screening was the film that Palestine nominated to the Oscars of 2020.

Titled "It Must Be Heaven," the film by Elia Suleiman exposes generation gaps and ideas of current state of affairs in the political and social scenes in Palestine, also across the world.

Overbooked by eager audience, the screening was held in two places in the city simultaneously to accommodate the large audience.

Suleiman said that he didn't make the film for the Oscars, but to meet a vision he believes in.

"I think I made the film not for the Oscars, I made the film because of the content of the film and because of the necessity to make this film," he told reporters.

An Oscar nomination would normally require a costly promotion, international distributors and the support of not just the audience, but cultural organizations, and often, state run parties.

Palestinian Minister of Culture Atef Abu Seif, who was behind the nomination, said that the film would put Palestine on the world cinema map as one that tackles international affairs, not just local issues.

He said he is proud that Suleiman's film is the debut of a rich festival, which would encourage the cinema industry in Palestine.

Palestine Cinema Days is the only international film festival held in Palestine since 2014. It offers a wide program that includes certain sections that target children and aspiring filmmakers, encouraging them through a series of talks and meetings and a national film award.