Last year, Conflict Kitchen, a take-out restaurant known for its socially conscious cuisine, received national attention for serving Palestinian food. The move, which includes wrappers bearing text from interviews “conducted with Palestinians living in both Palestine and the United States,” sparked controversy and even incited death threats. Undeterred, the establishment has taken its mission of promoting thoughtful public discourse a step further by presenting the Pittsburgh Palestinian Film Festival, a three-day program of contemporary, genre-spanning independent cinema exploring the diversity of the Palestinian experience. The event is co-hosted by Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voices for Peace – Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee, and B 52. See film schedule and details below:
5 Broken Cameras (2011)
The first-ever Palestinian film nominated for an Oscar in Best Documentary Feature, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. The film was shot by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat – who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel – and co-directed by Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker. Structured in chapters around the destruction of each one of Burnat’s cameras, the work follows one family’s evolution over five years of village upheaval. As the years pass in front of the camera, we witness Gibreel grow from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him with the astute powers of perception that only children possess. Olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify, and lives are lost in this cinematic diary and unparalleled record of life in the West Bank. 5 Broken Cameras will screen at the Regent Square Theater. Tickets are $10.
Divine Intervention (2002)
In this darkly comic masterpiece, Palestinian director Elia Suleiman utilizes irreverence, wit, mysticism, and insight to craft an intense, hallucinogenic, and extremely adept exploration of the dreams and nightmares of Palestinians and Israelis living in uncertain times. Subtitled A Chronicle of Love and Pain, Divine Intervention follows ES, a character played by and clearly based upon the filmmaker himself. ES is burdened with a sick father, a stalled screenplay, and an unrequited love affair with a beautiful Palestinian woman (Manal Khader) 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. The result is a palpable rage that is both personal and political. Divine Intervention will screen at the Melwood Screening Room. Admission is a $10 suggested donation.
The Dinner (2012)
The 20-minute short – one of four works included in the omnibus documentary feature Family Albums – focuses on its director Mais Darwazeh, who lives alone. In Amman, a city of uprooted people, her father telling of his memories of Palestine, people longing for places not easily remembered. She creates her own identity by gathering around her table close friends, chosen ingredients, and old recipes. A discussion with Darwazeh will follow the screening.
When I Saw You (2012)
The feature film from director Annemarie Jacir takes place in 1967 Jordan. The world is alive with change: brimming with reawakened energy, new styles, music and an infectious sense of hope. In Jordan, a different kind of change is underway as tens of thousands of refugees pour across the border from Palestine. Having been separated from his father in the chaos of war, Tarek, 11, and his mother Ghaydaa, are amongst this latest wave of refugees. Placed in “temporary” refugee camps made up of tents and prefab houses until they would be able to return, they wait, like the generation before them who arrived in 1948. With difficulties adjusting to life in Harir camp and a longing to be reunited with his father, Tarek searches a way out, and discovers a new hope emerging with the times. Eventually his free spirit and curious nature lead him to a group of people on a journey that will change their lives.
The Dinner and When I Saw You are free and will screen in Schenley Plaza. Conflict Kitchen will provide food until 9 p.m.