Chicago Palestine Film Festival
April 15 - May 4
The Gene Siskel Film Center collaborates with the Chicago Palestine Film Festival to present the sixteenth annual festival representing the spirit and mood of contemporary Palestinian life. This festival is dedicated to exhibiting film and video work that is open, critical, and reflective of the culture, experience, and vision of the artists.
This year's festival is made possible in part through the support of the Crossroads Fund and the hard work of many volunteers. For their invaluable cooperation the Gene Siskel Film Center thanks the members of the Chicago Palestine Film Festival Committee.
— Barbara Scharres, Director of Programming
Omor Shakhsiya / עניינים אישיים
2016, Maha Haj, Israel, 90 min. With Maisa Abd Elhadi, Ziad Bakri.
“Haj’s wry, good-hearted humor begins to feel almost radical, a revolutionary statement, reminding us that Palestinians are people as well as ‘a People.’” — John Bleasdale, Cinevue
“A fast-paced, quick-witted feature…leaves us with a smile and a lot to reflect upon.” — Jasmin Valjas, The Upcoming
The Saturday, April 15 Opening Night screening is now SOLD OUT!
Gently humorous and cleverly absurd, this sneaky little comedy-drama couches an undercurrent of political commentary in its whimsical set pieces staged in Palestine, Israel, and Sweden, and in family setups that are both realistic and slow-burning funny. Elderly marrieds Nabeela and Saleh communicate only through inflicting petty annoyances on each other, while their widely scattered adult children — pregnant Samar, commitment-phobic Tarek, and Swedish immigrant Hisham — deal with the baffling contradictions of their world with ingenuity, including a lovely tango duet in an Israeli holding cell. In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
Preceded by TODAY THEY TOOK MY SON (2016, Pierre Dawalibi, Lebanon/UAE, 7 min.). A thrown stone shatters a family’s unity. In Arabic and English with English subtitles.
2016, Heidi Saman, USA, 78 min. With Karim Saleh, Waleed Zuaiter.
“A perceptive and involving portrait of unraveling…an unusually accomplished debut with strong contributions on both sides of the camera.” — Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
A morose twenty-something valet parking attendant for a ritzy Los Angeles eatery experiences a quarter-life crisis in this keenly observant drama of an assimilated Palestinian family’s gradual disintegration against the background of California cool. Steven (Saleh) is drifting in place, hating his demeaning job, shown up by his ambitious over-achiever sister, and uneasily coming to terms with his parents’ pending divorce, the sale of the family home, and the fading thrills of an uncommitted romance. First time director Saman, winner of the Muse Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, brings an acute sense of an unmoored culture to this late-onset coming of age. DCP digital. (BS)
Preceded by OCEANS OF INJUSTICE, 2016, Bruno de Champris, UK/Palestine, 12 min.), a metaphorical journey through Palestine.
Arab Idol / Ya tayr el tayer
2015, Hany Abu Assad, UK/Palestine/Qatar, 100 min. With Qais Atallah, Hiba Atallah, Tawfeek Barhom.
“This is crowd-pleasing cinema akin to Danny Boyle’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.” — Ben Nicholson, CineVue
“Thoroughly captivating…charming, rambunctious.” — Justin Chang, Variety
Four mischievous kids in a Gaza refugee camp master the ways of the streets to score musical instruments and start a ragtag wedding band. Surmounting poverty, family tragedy, and the occupation, the band’s precociously talented vocalist Mohammed Assaf (Barhom) grows up to wangle by hook and by crook, a coveted spot on TV’s "Arab Idol," the first Palestinian ever to compete. The hopes of an entire people hang thrillingly on the outcome. It’s a true story, and one recreated by director Abu Assad (OMAR, PARADISE NOW) as a rousing tension-filled cliffhanger with an irresistibly jubilant finale. In Arabic with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
Preceded by GRAFFITI (2016, Fidaa Nasr, Palestine, 16 min.). Words of love written on a wall stand as a bitter contrast to the fate of a young Jerusalem man and woman. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Bar Bahar / بَر بَحَر
2016, Maysaloun Hamoud, Israel/France, 96 min. With Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura.
“Sparkling, taboo-breaking…audiences will have to seriously update their ideas about the lifestyle of Palestinian women in Israel.” — Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
“The movie equivalent of a page-turner…tough and touching.” — Kent Turner, Film-Forward
Three disparate young Palestinian women thrown together as roommates find strength in numbers when society, family, and male partners attempt to impose their will in this sprightly millennial drama that suggests parallels with “Sex in the City” and “Girls.” Laila, lawyer by day, liberated party girl by night; Salma, counterculture DJ with a lesbian lover she hides from her Christian family; and newcomer Nour, a studious hijab-wearing Muslim with a sternly devout fiancé, clash over the cultural details but bond as sisters when the chips are down and men fall into the trap of presuming to make the rules. In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles. Note: Contains graphic sexual activity and sexual violence. DCP digital. (BS)
Preceded by SHISHBARAK (2016, Bayan Dahdah, Quatar, 10 min.) A dead mother’s cookbook summons up her presence in memory. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Love, Theft and Other Entanglements
Al-Hob wa Al-Sariqa wa Mashakel Ukhra / حب، سرقة ومشاكل أخرى
2015, Muayad Alayan, Palestine, 90 min. With Sami Metwasi, Maya Abu Alhayyat.
“Channels Jean-Luc Godard into a fast-paced and delightfully comic story…pops, sizzles and charges forward.” — Stephen Mayne, Flickfeast
“Sly…absurdist humor…adds pointed digs at all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” — Jay Weissberg, Variety
The adventures of a bumbling car thief and deadbeat dad are doomed by the fateful collision of petty crime and politics in this droll, jazzy take on one man’s flawed scheme to exit the Occupied Territories. Occasional construction worker Mousa, perennial loser in life, love and larceny, steals a car, only to discover a bound and gagged Israeli soldier in the trunk. With the care and feeding of a hostage on his hands, hotly pursued by gangsters and authorities alike, and with the car such a known entity that no chop shop will touch it, Mousa seeks solace in the arms of his married illicit lover, only to encounter a new and potentially deadly pitfall. DCP digital. (BS)
Preceded by PINK BULLET (2014, Ramzi Hazboun, Palestine, 11 min.). A surreal dream foreshadows reality for a Ramallah man. Both in Arabic with English subtitles.
The Occupation of the American Mind
2016, Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp, USA, 84 min
“Harrowing and incendiary…a vital and unmissable film.” — Dave Zirin, The Nation
“Amazing…a must-watch documentary for anyone interested in understanding the truth of the Occupation and the failures of Western journalism.” — Marc Lamont Hill, CNN
A sharply critical analysis of the public relations efforts that have consistently portrayed Israel as a victim in relation to the Palestinian struggle and the Occupation, this incisive documentary dissects a multi-faceted campaign that has waged since the 1980s, aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Americans and suppressing opposing viewpoints. Cultural critics and experts including Noam Chomsky, Amira Hass, Norman Finkelstein, M.J. Rosenberg, Yousef Munayyer, and Mark Crispin Miller explore the issues and the key players, from the pro-Israel lobby in Congress to the media coverage of Israel and Palestine by U.S. press. DCP digital. (BS)
The Seventh Summit
2016, Elia Youssef, Lebanon/Nepal/USA, 66 min.
Three men and a woman, all seasoned mountain climbers, attempt the toughest climb of their careers, Alaska’s Mt. Denali, in a hazardous adventure that symbolizes the dedication to achieving dreams for each of them. Director Youssef captures the tension, suspense, and ever-present danger of every stage of the project beginning with rigorous training, as Sheikh Mohammed El Thani from Quatar, Raed Zidan from Palestine, Massoud Kalafchi from Iran, and Suzanne Al Houby, the first Palestinian woman to scale Mt. Everest, prepare to take the seven Summits challenge, with Denali the formidable final obstacle to their hoped-for triumph. In Arabic and English with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
Preceded by NEVERTHELESS, AL QUDS (2016, Unai Aranzadi, Palestine/Spain, 30 min.). Courage in the face of the occupation of East Jerusalem is illustrated through documentary images and animation. In Arabic with English subtitles.