(Credit: Netflix)

Films

Netflix’s new ‘Palestinian Stories’ to feature award-winning films

Netflix has recently released a collection of films called ‘Palestinian Stories’ that will feature a lot of award-winning films. It has been appreciated by many and seen as a “bold” move. 

The collection was launched on 14th October 2021 and features 32 films that are either directed by Palestinian filmmakers or revolve around stories quintessential to the Palestinian experience. They include the harsh realities of life as a Palestinian in the Israel-occupied territories and what it is like to live in refugee camps in constant fear of humiliation and death. It also emphasised the love, romance, joy and pride of being a native. 

The works of 33-year old West Bank filmmaker Ameen Nayfeh, who now lives in Ramallah, have also been featured in the collection and she could not be happier about it. 

Nayfeh said, “I was very happy and very surprised, to be honest. This was a bold thing to buy 32 titles especially after what happened early this year.”

“Our stories are not well known. While we make films that travel internationally, our reach has never been so big,” Nayfeh revealed.

He added, “Now that it is available for the public, anywhere, in any country, at any time, it’s a huge achievement for Palestinian filmmakers.”

In case you are confused regarding what he is referring to, let us not forget the perilous predicament of the Palestinian people as they are constantly bombarded with unprecedented attacks. The conflict between Israel and Palestine had reached its peak in the summer of 2021 and led to unimaginable violence and bloodshed. 

In early May, Israeli attacks killed nearly 248 people in Gaza as well as 66 children in a gruesome attack. 

Nayfeh’s The Crossing, a 10-minute short film, has been included in the collection and is based on the real-life experience of the filmmaker and his siblings at an Israeli checkpoint as they were trying to visit their grandfather who resided on the opposite side of the wall in the Israel-occupied territory in Palestine. 

The riveting ten-minute film showed how they had the necessary permit required to cross the notorious boundary yet were continuously denied entry. Nayfeh said that the wall created a huge divide in their family and brought immensely “painful and traumatic memories” to them as well as hundreds and thousands of Palestinians. 

Referring to the conflict in May, he spoke about how they were being “oppressed”, “harassed”, “ethnically cleansed” and how it was “far from being a conflict” as it were the innocent Palestinians who were bearing the brunt of the Israeli wrath and tyranny. However, he spoke of how this Netflix initiative would help instil hope and bring about a positive change, educating the world about Palestinian issues. 

He said, “Finally we feel, I wouldn’t call it justice, but a difference in the international reaction to our part of the world and what is happening to us.”

He can only “hope” for the films to “raise awareness”. 

“Many people say they don’t know what’s happening, well now you have access to so many titles that are telling the story in different styles, documentaries, shorts, and feature films,” said Nayfeh. “Now people can know the truth. It’s a huge thing.”

Some of the other titles that have been included are Mahdi Fleifel’s A Man Returned, Annemarie Jacir’s Like 20 Impossibles and Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven

The director of content acquisition at Netflix, Nuha El Tayeb spoke of how Netflix was finally being the home to Arab cinema for the rest of the world to witness. 

Tayeb spoke of the nuanced beauty of storytelling by saying, “While these stories are distinctly and authentically Arab, the themes are quintessentially human, and will resonate with audiences across the world.”