Chicago Palestine Film Festival 2016
April 16 - May 5
The Gene Siskel Film Center collaborates with the Chicago Palestine Film Festival to present the fifteenth 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.
— Barbara Scharres
This year's festival is made possible in part through the support of the Crossroads Fund and the Khaled & Noha E. Taha Foundation (KNET). For their invaluable cooperation the Gene Siskel Film Center thanks the members of the Chicago Palestine Film Festival Committee.
Arab Idol / Ya tayrel 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
The Opening Night screening on Saturday, April 16 is now SOLD OUT!
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. (BS)
2015, Basil Khalil, Palestine/France. 14 min.
In this Oscar-nominated short film, a car accident results in a cultural collision between an argumentative Israeli family and a Palestinian convent under a vow of silence. In Arabic, English, and Hebrew with English subtitles.
2015, Arab Nasser and Tarzan Nasser, Palestine/France/Qatar, 84 min. With Hiam Abbass, Victoria Balitska.
"Ambitious, promising … compelling and even poignant." – Allan Hunter, Screen Daily
"The urgency of DÉGRADÉ is apparent in every frame ... This is bold, shrewd filmmaking." – Pat Mullen, Cinemablographer
Thirteen women holed up in a small Gaza beauty salon while a battle rages outside vent their jealousies, frustrations, and worries, from the haughty prima donna divorcee (Abbass) and the shy bride-to-be to the comically spiteful sisters-in-law. Known for their irreverence and cutting satire, the twin-brother directors Nasser (CONDOM LEAD) build the tension inherent in the pressure-cooker setup with off-the-wall complications, including a violent standoff in the street between a gangster with a purloined lion from a Hamas zoo and the posse of thugs hell-bent on retrieving the big cat. In Arabic with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
2015, Ramzi Maqdisi, Palestine/Spain, 25 min.
The arrival of a mysterious package threatens to change a young man’s life. In Arabic with English subtitles. DCP digital.
On the Bride's Side
Io sto con la sposa
2014, Antonio Augugliaro, Gabriele del Grande, and Khaled Soliman al Nassiry, Italy, 89 min.
A Milan-based trio of friends--a poet, a writer, and a translator--hatch a daring plot to smuggle a group of undocumented Syrian Palestinian refugees to Sweden by posing as a wedding party. Risking prison and/or deportation, the ersatz family journeys four days by car and by foot over mountainous borders. Despite the evident hardship and danger, this winner of three special awards at the Venice International Film Festival exudes an air of celebration and unflagging hope, aptly symbolized by the bride’s gauzy white gown. In Arabic and Italian with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
On Friday, April 22, preceded by:
ARABS IN HOLLYWOOD
2015, Thabit Al Mawaly, U.A.E. 11 min.
On Sunday, April 24, preceded by:
2014, Anna Fahr, USA/Lebanon, 18 min.
Two kids on a country road give a new refugee a glimpse of the future. In Arabic with English subtitles. DCP digital.
2015, Amber Fares, Palestine/USA/Qatar, 83 min.
"A bold little film with a lot of attitude … thrilling as a snapshot of social change." – Jeannie Kermode, Eye For Film
"A lively portrait of its trailblazing subjects … shattering stereotypes." – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
Speed equals freedom for the five women of a Palestinian all-female racing car team, the first-ever in the Middle East. With differing motivations and backgrounds, they hone public personas ranging from tomboy to girly-girl. Drivers Marah, Mona, Betty, and Noor and their manager Maysoon, kick the “just girls” stereotypes to the curb, overcoming limitations of politics and environment to reign as symbols of hope for a fun-starved following. Defying cultural bias, men--and especially their supportive dads – are the biggest fans of these taboo-breaking champions. DCP digital. (BS)
EPICLY PALESTINE’D: THE BIRTH OF SKATEBOARDING IN THE WEST BANK
2015, Philip Joa and Theo Krish, UK, 26 min.
The guys who launched skateboarding on the West Bank tell all. In Arabic with English subtitles.
2015, Jake Witzenfeld, Israel/UK, 86 min.
Three gay Palestinian friends explore the contradictions in their lives with filmmaker Witzenfeld. Khader is at ease with his relationship with an Israeli lover as just another dimension of “otherness,” while fervently political Fadi rejects intimate friendship with the enemy until he finds himself falling for one of their number. Naeem, in the closet to his traditional family, endures their increasing pressure to marry and start a family of his own. Together the three embark on a flamboyant form of activism involving video skits. In Arabic, Hebrew, and English with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
IN THE FUTURE THEY ATE FROM THE FINEST PORCELAIN
2015, Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind, UK/Denmark, 29 min.
The concept of nationhood is explored through a sci-fi plot. In Arabic with English subtitles. DCP digital.
2015, Mai Masri, Palestine/France/Jordan, 103 min. With Maisa Abd Elhadi, Nadera Omran.
"Inspiring and eye-opening." – Robert Bell, Exclaim!
"Admirably avoiding sensationalism … emotionally gripping." – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
A good deed for a stranger lands Layal, newly married and newly pregnant, in an Israeli prison, convicted as accessory to a terrorist bombing. Director Masri recreates the politics and tensions of the Palestinian struggle in this microcosm. The warden and guards foster suspicion and mistrust, and stoke the bitter enmity between Palestinian and Israeli prisoners. The birth of Layal’s child brings rare joy, but hastens the day when she must choose between family and solidarity with the cause of freedom. In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
2015, Amr Kawji, USA/Palestine, 20 min.
Four Palestinian children cope with life under Israeli detention. DCP digital.