Largest Palestinian Film Festival in Europe Held in London
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Largest Palestinian Film Festival in Europe Held in London

The London Palestine Film Festival opens this week, the biggest event of its kind in Europe, showcasing some of the finest films about Palestine and bringing together Palestinian filmmakers from throughout the diaspora.

Special themes to be highlighted by this year’s event include women and resistance, Palestinian refugees and those living within the areas of Palestine occupied in 1948. Numerous films on show deal with the devastating impact of the Apartheid Wall upon the Palestinian people. The 2006 festival will run for two weeks, from April 21st to May 5th, and is held at the London Barbican – the largest arts centre in Europe.

As well as films, the event will also host panel discussions and Q&A sessions with directors about Palestinian life, culture and political filmmaking.

Around 32 films will be officially shown during the course of the festival. Visitors and Palestine solidarity groups often also set up extra film screenings for interested audiences. Festival organisers said, “As in previous years, films have been selected to offer audiences a chance to engage with both new and established artists, and to see unusual, lost or previously banned work not generally available.”

Award-winning directors including Rashid Mashrawi, Juliano Mer Khamis and Mohammed Bakri – whose film Jenin, Jenin highlighted the Occupation’s massacre of countless Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camps – will attend the festival in person to interact with audiences. The festival will be opened by Egyptian novelist and critic Ahdaf Soueif.

The first London Palestine Film Festival was held in 1999, organised by the Palestine Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Its huge success led to the creation of the Palestine Film Foundation in 2004, which “seeks to develop an audience for and to encourage the development of a Palestinian cinema and cinema related to Palestine.”

The annual festival is accompanied by film tours, screenings and seminars that take place throughout the year across the UK, visiting universities, community centres and cinemas to raise awareness about Palestinian issues to new audiences.