Reel Palestine returns to Dubai, placing focus on culture amid Gaza conflict

Film festival's 10th year will run from January 26 to February 4 at Cinema Akil

Cinema Akil will host the 2024 iteration of the Reel Palestine Film Festival. Mohamed Somji / Seeing Things
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Reel Palestine is returning to Cinema Akil for its 10th year.

The festival, which celebrates independent films from Palestine, will be running from January 26 to February 4.

The annual event will include screenings of features and shorts from directors in Palestine and the wider diaspora. In addition, attendees will be able to interact with participating filmmakers through Q&A sessions, masterclasses and workshops, which will be announced soon.

The works usually include contemporary festival favourites, alongside classics of Palestinian cinema. The line-up of films screening this year has not yet been revealed.

The 10th year will welcome back the Reel Palestine Souk, which will showcase Palestinian businesses sharing crafts, artworks, artisanal condiments and cuisine.

This year, the festival will run while Gaza is still in the throes of crisis, as the war with Israel is about to enter its fourth month.

Besides its film programme, Reel Palestine is also known to host talks related to Palestinian culture. The event's market has previously featured colourful embroidery, dolls and keffiyehs as well as jarred confections and pickles.

Founded by a group of friends in Dubai in 2014, Reel Palestine is a non-profit, volunteer organisation that launched its first pop-up festival in January 2015. The aim of the event is to show Palestinian culture and tenacity through film, submerging viewers in the beautiful, difficult, emotional and inspirational moments that occur in life.

The festival has provided a local platform for several award-winning films over the past decade.

Last year, it screened Mediterranean Fever by Maha Haj, which won the Un Certain Regard Screenplay Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival; Foragers by Jumana Manna, winner of the Green Dox award at Dokufest International Documentary and Short Film Festival as well as the special mention winner of the Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature of the 2022 Camden International Film Festival.

Last year’s event also paid tribute to Michel Khleifi, a luminary of Palestinian cinema, screening many of his works, including Wedding in Galilee, Fertile Memory and Tale of the Three Jewels, which is the first feature film to be shot entirely on the Gaza Strip.

Updated: January 05, 2024, 8:37 AM