Palestinian films screening at Toronto International Film Festival

The groundbreaking stories are part of a number of Arab features being screened

Two Palestinian films will be shown at Tiff, including 'Alam', which was directed by Firas Khoury. Photo: Toronto International Film Festival
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The annual Toronto International Film Festival, which runs until Sunday, is screening two Palestinian films.

This year’s Tiff will show nine contemporary Arab films spanning several categories. From Sally El Hosaini’s highly anticipated Netflix film The Swimmers to Erige Sehiri's beautifully shot Under the Fig Trees, the list covers regions such as Syria, Morocco, Tunisia as well as Arab diaspora.

The two Palestinian films that will have their premiere at the festival explore themes of occupation, borders and human experiences in profoundly different ways.

'A Gaza Weekend'

'A Gaza Weekend' is directed by British-Palestinian Basil Khalil. Photo: Toronto International Film Festival

The comedy from British-Palestinian writer and directorBasil Khalil focuses on a couple who find themselves stranded in the middle of a lockdown.

Bumbling Englishman Michael and his uptight Israeli partner Keren are a wealthy couple stranded in Israel when a mutant virus known as ARS breaks out. Their only hope of escape is to smuggle their way into the Gaza Strip, which, because of the separation wall, is “the safest place in the world”.

Dealing with Palestinian hustlers, the intrusive media and Hamas, the couple and one of their hired hands must work together to make it out alive.

While A Gaza Weekend was written before the Covid-19 pandemic, the story is eerily relatable and uses satire to comment on class and ethnicity.

'Alam'

The debut feature from Palestinian scriptwriter and director Firas Khoury is a coming-of-age story delving into themes of memory and repressed memories.

Alam is the story of five high school students dealing with conflicting feelings about being Palestinians in Israel in the lead up to the country's Independence Day, which coincides with the commemoration of the Nakba — the day Palestinians memorialise as displacement from their homeland.

The film deals with the complex realities of being a teenager in Israel and their families' fight for rights in Palestine; Alam is a story full of tension about nationalism and forgotten history.

Tiff will also be hosting the Toronto Palestine Film Festival from next Wednesday to Sunday and will showcase more groundbreaking Palestinian films in person and online.

For more information on TIFF visit www.tiff.net; for more information on TPFF visit www.tpff.ca

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Updated: September 14, 2022, 1:17 PM
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