Cinema is a privileged medium; consider the resources, technical know-how, and expensive equipment it takes to create a film. It’s no wonder, then, that so much of Palestinian cinema thrums with an urgency to shout our stories to the world, to stick a stubborn thorn in the side of the global news cycle. Interestingly, it has often been Palestine’s proximity to journalists, with their power and modern equipment, that has inspired us to take our narrative into our own hands. The result is that a fragmented mess of people — spanning those living under occupation in the West Bank, under siege in Gaza, as second-class citizens in Israel, and a worldwide diaspora — has created one of the richest and most productive collective oeuvres of the Global South. While there are truly too many gems to list them all, here is a cross-section of where to begin.
3000 Nights (2015)
Documentarian Mai Masri made her fiction debut with this story about a Palestinian political prisoner forced to give birth in an Israeli jail. Masri based the script on the true story of a woman she met making one of her documentaries. Maisa Abd Elhadi anchors the film with an unfathomable performance, bringing both ferocity and tenderness to a tale of agonizing injustice.
The Present (2021)
Military checkpoints are at the crux of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Almost every Palestinian filmmaker has related their experiences with the humiliating, sometimes lethal encounters that take place at these flashpoints. Released this year, Farah Nabulsi’s take on the checkpoint received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Short Film.
Paradise Now (2005)
Hany Abu Assad directs this controversial tale of two friends recruited for a suicide bombing mission. It handles inter-Palestinian societal complexities with exceptional delicacy, and has a sweet love story at its core.
5 Broken Cameras (2011)
This is a good introduction to the lived realities of Palestine, following the struggles of West Bank villagers whose lands are being annexed by the Israeli military. Cobbled together from footage filmed over many years by Emad Burnat in Bil’in with the help of Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, it captures both crushing hand of the occupation and the indomitable spirit of its nonviolent resistance.
Tel Aviv On Fire (2018)
Palestinians’ love of dark, often biting comedy may come as a surprise to some. It punctuates our daily lives and conversations — a salvo to the absurdity of our condition. No film captures that signature wit as well as this exceedingly watchable feature by Sameh Zoabi. A young Palestinian production assistant on a soap opera finds his voice as a writer with some help from an unlikely source: the Israeli general at a checkpoint where he is stopped.
The Time That Remains (2009)
Arthouse giant Elia Suleiman is at his best in this autobiographical film, which spans generations as it follows events in Palestine from the creation of Israel to the present day. Its carefully crafted frames will linger long in your memory.
Junction 48 (2016)
Best described as “48 Mile,” this film fictionalizes the life of lead actor Tamer Nafar, a popular Palestinian rapper with Israeli citizenship. Nafar, who also composed original songs for the film, plays Kareem, who is coming of age in the ghettoized city of Lydd, today a site of both Israeli settler violence and indomitable Palestinian resistance.
Special Edition: 🖌️Artists’ Signatures ✍️
In this special edition, we investigate what artists’ signatures actually mean, and the fascinating results reveal the multifaceted history of this curious phenomenon.
What Is a Signature in the Internet Age?
As a cryptographic unit for record-keeping, an NFT can be seen as analogous to a signature or an autograph.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
The Meaning of Ancient Greek and Roman Artisan Signatures
What did a signature mean in the ancient world, and how much can we trust what they seem to tell us?
Michelangelo’s Signature and the Myth of Genius
Michelangelo served as a stellar example for future artists who sought status and economic independence.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Uncovering the Photographer Behind Arshile Gorky’s Most Famous Painting
As we pursue photographer Hovhannes Avedaghayan a fascinating picture begins to emerge of him and the world of which he was part.
100 Years of Artist Signatures in a Detroit Club
The beams in Detroit’s Scarab Club act as a guest book of sorts, carrying a wealth of stories and history, including signatures by Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Margaret Bourke-White, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
The Myth of Agency Around Artists’ Signatures
In an art world built on shifting sands, artists’ signatures become symbols of agency for some, and relics of the past for others.
The Women Artists Commemorated on an NYC Sidewalk
The signatures of Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, and six other historical women artists are engraved on a small stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.