Palestinian Film Festival in Leeds (November)

We hope you will be able to come along to some of the films that we are showing at venues around Leeds, including the Town Hall, Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton, Heart in Headingley, Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds Beckett University and the Hamara Centre in Beeston.

At Heart and Hyde Park Picture House we will be selling Zaytoun food products (including olive oil and dates), Hadeel crafts and Recipes of Resistance cookery books, all of which make great Christmas presents!

Welcome to the first Leeds Palestinian Film Festival

We are proud to bring you a selection of films from and about Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora. Ranging from documentaries to dramas to our favourite – a Claymation – we hope these will illuminate the darkness of troubled times.

We are pleased to have Richard Burgon (MP for East Leeds and newly appointed Shadow Treasury Secretary) opening the festival on 15thNovember, given his longtime interest and commitment to Palestine.

Our screenings are:

The Wanted 18: Sunday 15th November 8.30 pm, Albert Room, Leeds Town Hall, Headrow, LS1 3AD.

This winning mix of documentary and clay-animation offers an unexpectedly humorous account of a West Bank town’s experience of the first Intifada, a subject that doesn’t usually generate a lot of laughs in cinema. It recounts the true story of how the Palestinian neighborhood of BeitSahour near Bethlehem acquired a herd of 18 dairy cows and then had to hide them from the Israeli security forces when their existence was absurdly deemed a threat to national security.

Screened in collaboration with Leeds International Film Festival

Directors: Amer Shomali, Paul Cowan, released: 2014, running time: 75 minutes

Tickets £5 / £6

If you want to recommend this to or let a friend n Sheffield know about this film, it is also showing at the Showroom on Saturday 28thNovember.


Amreeka: Tuesday 17th November 7.30 pm, Seven Arts Centre, 31A, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, LS7 3PD

This lighthearted film chronicles the adventures of Muna, a single mother who leaves the West Bank with Fadi, her teenage son, with dreams of an exciting future in the promised land of small town Illinois. Told with heartfelt humor, “Amreeka” is a universal journey into the lives of a family of immigrants and first-generation teenagers caught between their heritage and the new world in which they now live and the bittersweet search for a place to call home.

Director and writer: Cherien Dabis, released 2009, running time: 96 minutes, cast includes Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem and Alia Shawkat

Tickets £5 / £3.50 concessions


Two Blue Lines: Monday 23rd November, 6.30 pm, Beckett Studio, LBU Headingley CampusLS6 3QS

Shot over a period of 32 years, this documentary examines the human and political situation of Palestinian people from the years prior to the creation of Israel to the present day. By primarily featuring the narratives of Israelis whose positions run counter to their country’s official policy, Ohio-based filmmaker Tom Hayes provides a portrait of the ongoing conflict not often depicted in our mainstream media.

Director: Tom Hayes, released 2015, running time: 98 minutes

Free entry, donations welcome, free parking and a bar on campus


Film and Food Night: Friday 4th December, 6 pm onwards, HEART Centre, Bennett Street, Headingley, LS6 3HN screening Divine Intervention

The lovely folk at HEART Café will have some delicious Palestinian and middle eastern mezzes on their menu, especially laid on for the evening from 6 pm onwards.  There will also be lovely Zaytoun Palestinian products and Palestinian crafts available for sale (great for Christmas Presents).

Divine Intervention will be introduced at 7pm by Keith Withall, local film enthusiast or who has a keen interest of film by and about oppressed peoples fighting neo-colonialism.

This film (which will start at around 7.20pm) is made by Palestinian director Elia Suleimanand is a surreal black comedy.  The film records a day in the life of a Palestinian living in Nazareth, whose girlfriend lives several checkpoints away in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

One lyrical section features a beautiful sunglasses-clad Palestinian woman (played by Manal Khader) whose passing by not only distracts all eyes, but whose gaze causes Israeli military checkpoint towers to crumble. The director features prominently as the film’s silent, expressionless protagonist in an iconic and powerfully moving performance that has been compared to the work of Buster Keaton, Jim Jarmusch and Jacques Tati.

Director and writer: Elia Suleiman, released 2002, running time 92 minutes, cast include Elia Suleiman, Manal Khader and George Ibrahim.

Tickets £5 / £3.50 concessions


On the side of the road: Thursday 8th December 7 pm, Hamara Centre, Tempest Road, Beeston, LS11 6RD.

This documentary by Israeli journalist Lia Tarachansky examines the collective Israeli denial about the expulsion and displacement of Palestinians in the wake of the 1948 war for independence. Referred to by the Palestinian people as the Nakba, or “the catastrophe,” the destruction of villages resulted in generations of refugees and, as parks and new cities were built on the ruins of those villages, years of violent history were swept under the rug.  Tarachansky interviews several former soldiers who participated in the destruction,. The film refrains from dehumanizing either side, instead making the simple request that the region’s history never be forgotten.

DirectorLia Tarachansky, released 2013, running time: 82 minutes


Open Bethlehem: Tuesday 15th December, 6.30 pm, Hyde Park Picture House, 73, Brudenell Road, Hyde Park, LS6 1JD

When film-maker Leila Sansour returned to Bethlehem in 2005, she planned to make a documentary about the Palestinian city she couldn’t wait to leave as a teenager. However, her cousin Carol convinces her to stay and build upon the legacy of her father, who founded the local university in 1973. Realising that the “Separation” wall erected by the Israelis is isolating a once-thriving destination for pilgrims and tourists, Leila and Carol devise a campaign to encourage visitors to return to the birthplace of Jesus Christ and apply for passports giving them honorary citizenship.  Distilled from 700 hours of footage shot over several years and with rare archive material, the film is potent and poignant.

There will also be lovely Zaytoun products  and crafts for sale before the screening (perfect ethical Christmas Presents!).  There will also be a short update from Ghada Elkhatik …………..on life in Bethlehem.   You are welcome to leave before this or to stay if you would like.

Director:  Leila Sansour, released 2014, running time 90 minutes

Tickets £5.50 /£4.50 concessions / £6 balcony / Friends of HPPH £4

We would like to thank Leeds International Film Festival,  the Beckett Studio, Hyde Park Picture House, 7 Arts Centre and HEART for supporting the LPFF.

Organised by the Leeds Palestinian Film Festival Committee.


Explaining Hamas’s role in Israel’s realpolitik

This article reveals how Israel has played its Gaza/Hamas card over the past ten years. Now that the USA is showing some small signs of pressurising the Israeli government, its manipulation of the kidnapping and murder of the three Jewish youths shows how desperate Netanyahu’s government has become.  Read Mouin Rabbani’s article here (Written on 18th July and published in the 31st July 2014 issue of the London Review of Books.)