Reel Palestine announces 2024 line-up: The Teacher, Bye Bye Tiberias and more

The 10th-anniversary festival runs from January 26 to February 4 in Dubai

Documentary Bye Bye Tiberias was directed by Lina Soualem and stars her mother Hiam Abbass. Photo: Lina Soualem
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The Reel Palestine film festival has announced the full schedule of films and events for its 10th year.

Held once again at independent movie theatre Cinema Akil in Dubai, the annual event showcases a diverse array of Palestinian stories.

This year, in solidarity with Palestine as the conflict continues in its fourth month, the event's visual identity draws inspiration from the Gaza city shield.

The festival schedule includes 12 feature films and documentaries in addition to a short film programme that will run from January 26 to February 4, complemented by a range of masterclasses, workshops and the annual souq.

The debut feature of Academy Award nominee Farah Nabulsi, The Teacher, will mark its UAE premiere on the festival’s opening night. The film won the Jury Prize and Best Actor for star Saleh Bakri at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last month.

The West Bank-set film, a follow up to her Bafta-winning short The Present, made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Nabulsi will also be present for an in-person Q&A session on the film’s opening night, as well as a masterclass on the festival’s final day.

Other features screening at the festival include Lina Soualem’s documentary Bye Bye Tiberias, Palestine’s submission to the 2024 Academy Awards. The film follows the director's mother, Hiam Abbass, who starred as Marcia in HBO’s Succession as well as the titular character’s mother Maysa in the Golden Globe-winning series Ramy.

The remaining titles capture myriad aspects of the Palestinian experience. Lyd, directed by Rami Younis and Sarah Ema Friedland, explores a city that once connected Palestine to the world. Tomorrow’s Freedom, directed by sisters Georgina and Sophia Scott, tells the story of imprisoned Palestinian political leader Marwan Barghouti.

Also screening is the 1972 film Here & Elsewhere, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, Dziga Vertov Group and Anne-Marie Mieville, which juxtaposes footage of Palestinian resistance fighters and a French family watching at home to create a scathing critique.

Slingshot Hip-Hop, directed by Jacqueline Reem Salloum, documents the emergence of Palestinian hip-hop.

Jumana Manna’s Foragers takes place in the Golan Heights, Galilee and Jerusalem combining fiction, documentary, and archival footage to depicts the drama around the practice of foraging in the region.

The documentary Three Promises, directed by Yousef Srouji, follows three families in the second Palestinian Intifada. We No Longer Prefer Mountains directed by Inas Halabi, is another documentary which captures the inner politics of the Druze community since 1948. Aida Returns, by director Carol Mansour, is a story of loss and rediscovery.

Notes on Displacement, from director Khaled Jarrar, follows a single refugee family on a difficult journey.

R21 aka Restoring Solidarity directed by Mohanad Yaqubi, explores global solidarity for Palestinian self-determination, starting with an undelivered letter by a Japanese activist, which was discovered 30 years after it was written.

Select directors will be present in person at the screening of their film, while others will be available for virtual Q&A sessions afterwards. There will also be two public non-ticketed outdoor screenings taking place at the Quoz Arts Fest in the Yard at Alserkal Avenue and at Cinema Akil’s new outpost at 25hours Hotel Dubai One Central.

In addition to the aforementioned session with Nabulsi on the festival’s closing night, there will be a number of other masterclasses and workshops. Filmmaker Yaqubi will host a session on 3rd Cinema & Trans-Global Solidarity. Nezar Andary will host a session on film and propaganda.

Kave will host workshops on Palestinian embroidery, and there will be children's book readings as well as traditional meals by Haya’s Kitchen.

The 10th-anniversary festival will welcome back the Reel Palestine Souk with over 50 small local businesses from Palestine and the region. Concepts will include Talleh, Fovero, Art to Heart, Kenar, as well as home-grown concepts Dammah, Bait Jafra, Ajdadi Collective, Mishkah and Mistica selling Palestinian crafts, books, fashion, spices, food and more. The market will be open to visitors on both weekends but closed during the week.

Tickets are priced at Dh52.50 for each session and are available online and in person through Cinema Akil.

Updated: January 15, 2024, 10:32 AM