The second annual Palestinian Film Festival is underway in Portland, hosting film screenings in various locations throughout the city.
The festival was organized by Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights, a group that works to support nonviolent efforts to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. They work through educational outreach, making important information on the conflict available to all and fundraising for humanitarian aid for Palestinians. A wide variety of events are held throughout the year to educate the population of Portland and provide direct financial aid to protesting efforts in Palestine. The film festival is designed to do both, showing low cost educational films with the proceeds going to aid the Middle East Children’s Alliance
water project to bring clean, safe water to the children of Gaza. they are also raising money to help fund a playground for the children of Aida Refugee Camp in Bethleham.
“We believe that nonviolent protest will eventually bring lasting peace to the area,” said Bob Schaible, Chair of the MVPR board of directors. “People just need to be educated on what’s happening over there. It’s not publicized in America. You’re not going to see this on the nightly news.”
There are two primary issues at the core of this continuing conflict. Trying maintain an ethnically partisan state in an area with such diversity has caused destabilization and general tension between settlers in the region. the Israeli military has been occupying territory in Palestine for years and has confiscated privately owned land in the West Bank and Gaza. While Israeli militants are regularly forceful with local Palestinians, a lot of their actions are protected by Israeli law.
“It’s oppression being backed-up by an entire legal system system,” said film journalist and and critic, Anthony Kaufman.
One of the more prominent films featured in the festival, 5 Broken Cameras, is a first-hand account of nonviolent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by the creation of new Israeli settlements. The film was shot almost entirely by Emad Burnat, a Palestinian farmer who purchased his first camera to film the birth and growth of his newborn son. Burnat quickly becomes involved with filming protests and conflicts between members of his village and nearby Israeli soldiers, putting himself right in the path of violent military responses. The film is structured around the destruction of five cameras over the course of five years, providing an intimate, up-close look at the progression of the Israeli-Palestine conflict and the growth of his family during it.
“The film literally lets you see this world through the eyes of a Palestinian citizen. It’s eye-opening for people here in the Western world,” said Kaufman.
Post-screening there will be Fair Trade Palestinian pottery, olive oil and art for sale.The film festival will continue through Nov. 4, with sfilm screenings at Nickelodeon Cinemas, located near the Old Port. A full schedule of events, additional information on the conflict and ticket pricing can be found on the official MVPR website.