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Strife-torn: Films about Israel-Palestine realities

Ernest Hemingway in his short story In another country (‘Men without Women’), explores the situation in Milan during World War I.

During a conversation with the narrator, the major says one should not marry and when asked why, he says: “If he is to lose everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that. He should not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot lose.” Wars lead nowhere. They are all about loss. As the world was still reeling from the Ukraine-Russia war, the news of the Israel-Palestine war broke out.

Here are some films that showcase the heart-wrenching stories of the lives of people living in the conflicted Israel-Palestine regions.

Huda’s Salon (2021)

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Nadia’s visit to Huda’s salon in Bethlehem turns bitter when Huda blackmails her to work for the secret service of the occupiers. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, Huda’s Salon is a feminist thriller set in occupied Palestine. It was screened at the Busan and Toronto International Film Festival.

Amazon Prime rentals

It Must Be Heaven (2019)

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Elia Suleiman (also the director of the film) leaves Palestine in search of a new home. No matter where he goes — New York or Paris — he encounters similar situations as back home. It Must Be Heaven, a burlesque tale explores nationality, identity and belongingness. The film won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes Film Festival. It has been screened at festival across the globe.

Apple TV

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem (2018)

Set in Jerusalem, an Israeli Jewish woman and a Palestinian man are in an extra marital affair. When their relationship goes public, it results in political espionage. The psychosocial film is directed by Muayad Alayan and was screened at multiple film festivalsacross the world including Berlin International Film Festival and International Film Festival of Rotterdam.

Amazon Prime rentals

Tel Aviv on Fire (2018)

This satirical drama revolves around Salam, a Palestinian living in Jerusalem who works on a TV show titled Tel Aviv on Fire. He must pass the arduous Israeli checkpoint everyday to reach the television studio in Ramallah. He befriends the commander of the check-point, Assi who starts giving notes to Salam on how the show should proceed — which becomes a hit — in exchange for homemade Palestinian hummus. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was also screened at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, among others.


Omar (2013)

A young Palestinian baker, Omar frequently climbs the West Bank Barrier to visit his girlfriend. In the wake of the killing of an Israeli soldier, Omar is accused of the crime. Heis captured and then agrees to work for the Israeli forces as an informer keeping his ulterior motives hidden. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, Omar was nominated in the best foreign language film category at the 86th Academy Awards. The film also won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.


Lemon Tree (2008)

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Salma is a widow living on a meagre income from her lemon groove in the West Bank’s occupied territory. When an Israeli defence officer moves next door, he demands removal of the trees that he believes could shelter terrorists. Directed by Eran Riklis, Lemon Tree revolves around Salma’s struggle to retain the trees. The film received critical acclaim also winning the Panorama Audience Award at Berlin International Film Festival in 2008.

Amazon Prime rentals, Youtube

Other recommendations :

Synonymns (Nadav Lapid, 2019), Mafak (Bassam Jarbawi, 2018), Wajib (Annemarie Jacir, 2017), 5 Broken Cameras (Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi, 2012), The Time That Remains (Elia Suleiman, 2009), Paradise Now (Hany Abu-Assad, 2005), Divine Intervention (Elia Suleiman, 2002), Chronicle of a Disappearance (Elia Suleiman, 1996)

(Published 13 October 2023, 23:54 IST)

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