Reel Palestine to mark Nakba with screenings of six films in Dubai

Programme will highlight Palestinian stories and voices as war continues

Rana’s Wedding tells the story of a girl, 17, who is given an ultimatum by her father. Photo: Reel Palestine
Powered by automated translation

Reel Palestine is holding a film programme at Cinema Akil to mark the Nakba, highlighting Palestinian stories and voices as the war in Gaza continues.

Running from May 15 to 19, the programme begins on the day that commemorates the Nakba of 1948 when Palestinians were expelled from their homes as a precursor to the creation of Israel.

The plight of the Palestinians continues today, with more than 34,800 people killed since the war began on October 7. There is another aspect to the conflict – one that involves the sidelining of Palestinian perspectives.

The Reel Palestine film programme, Permission to Narrate, is a reflection of this cultural conflict and takes its title from a 1984 essay by Edward Said. Responding to the Israel-Lebanese war, Said highlighted the West’s favouring of the Israeli narrative, an issue that many argue persists to this day.

Reel Palestine’s Permission to Narrate will spotlight six films, each of which delves into a different aspect of Palestinian identity in the face of occupation.

Divine Intervention (2002)

Directed by Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman, Divine Intervention is a black comedy that revolves around the struggles of living in a Palestine segmented by Israeli checkpoints. The film follows two lovers, one living in Jerusalem and the other in Ramallah. With several Israeli checkpoints between the two cities, they have to overcome significant obstacles to meet each other.

Rana’s Wedding (2002)

In Rana’s Wedding, Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad presents the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through a marriage drama. The film revolves around a girl, 17, named Rana (Clara Khoury) who is given an ultimatum by her father to either relocate with him to Egypt or stay in Palestine, provided she marry one of the men he lists in his letter. It is a decision she has to make within 10 hours before her father travels to Egypt.

Jenin, Jenin (2002)

This documentary that delves into the Jenin massacre, when Israel Defense Forces soldiers invaded the refugee camp in Jenin in April 2002 and 52 Palestinians were killed. Directed by Palestine actor and filmmaker Mohammed Bakri, the documentary has no narration and instead only features interviews with Jenin’s inhabitants. The film was a response to the silencing of the Palestinian perspective in relation to the clash.

Bab el Shams (2004)

Egyptian filmmaker Yousry Nasrallah’s adaptation of Bab el Shams was released a mere two years after the seminal novel by Elias Khoury. It is fitting that the film will be the first to screen at Permission to Narrate as it spans half a century of Palestinian history, beginning with the Nakba.

Screened in the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, the film revolves around a group of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. It features several notable Arab stars, including Hiam Abbas, Orwa Nyrabia, Basem Samrah and Bassel Khayat.

The Tower (2018)

An animation by Norwegian director Mats Grorud, The Tower tells the story of an 11-year-old Palestinian girl living in a refugee camp in Lebanon. The film follows her attempts to learn more about her family’s history by the stories she hears from across three generations of refugees. The film has been shown at several film festivals across the world, including in Cairo, Busan, Rome, Thessaloniki and Annecy.

Tomorrow’s Freedom (2022)

The most recent film in the programme, Tomorrow’s Freedom, is directed by UK sisters Georgia and Sophia Scott. The film revolves around the story of Marwan Barghouti, an imprisoned Palestinian leader who had a pivotal role in the first and second intifadas.

The documentary is the consequence of the three years the Scott sisters spent with Barghouthi’s family in the West Bank, touching upon Barghouthi’s hunger strike in response to harsh prison conditions.

As the documentary’s description reads, Tomorrow’s Freedom “takes you on a brutally honest and transformative journey into the heart of the Israel Palestine conflict, speaking to Palestinians and Israelis on both sides.”

Screening times and more information available at

Updated: May 09, 2024, 12:49 PM