When Linda Bevis started her second career in teaching nineteen years ago, she noticed that the textbooks for high school world history dedicated about five paragraphs to Palestine and Israel. The Seattle resident, educator, and longtime activist knew how difficult it would be for any teacher to use that material productively. “While I actually don’t think the conflict is a complicated one, it cannot be explained in five paragraphs."
Actor, theatre director, and playwright Sami Metwasi is the star of Muayad Alayan’s latest film, “Love, Theft, and Other Entanglements,” which is set for release in 2015. It has been officially selected by one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, the Berlin International Film Festival.
Amer Shomali discusses his film debut Wanted 18, including the filmmaking process, creative resistance during the first Palestinian Intifada, and why he chose talking cows as his protagonists. A Palestinian multidisciplinary artist, Amer Shomali uses painting, digital media, films, installations and comics as tools to explore and interact with the sociopolitical scene in Palestine.
In the spring of 2014, Palestinian-American actor Thom Bishops shot his 17th film, Time Out of Mind. The movie stars Richard Gere and Jena Malone, and Bishops was cast in the role of a vegan chef who offers kindness (and food) to a homeless man played by Gere. The film is enjoying success on the festival circuit—it showed at Rome and Toronto (where it won the FIPRESCI International Critics’ Prize) in October, among others.
Besides being slickly made, this documentary about Palestinian female rally-race drivers, directed by first-time filmmaker Amber Fares, delivers a spirited, crowd-pleasing portrait of four tenacious, strong-minded young women determined to express themselves in their heavily male-dominated culture and sport.
The Ajyal Youth Film Festival opened in Doha’s Katara Village with the pulsating documentary Speed Sisters, about the first all-women rally-racing team in the Arab world. The film is directed by Amber Fares, who grew up in northern Alberta as the child of Lebanese immigrants. After 9/11, when mosques started being attacked in Canada, Fares wanted to better understand Arab culture so went to the Middle East.
Amber Fares' Speed Sisters is cool, fast-paced, insightful and fun to watch. Everything a documentary about the first all-women race car driving team in the Middle East should be, and more. With an infectious soundtrack which includes songs by my new obsession Hanouneh -- a Swedish/Palestinian musical sensation who successfully fuses Dancehall beats with Arab sounds and English lyrics -- it's the perfect film to kick off a festival in style.
SodaStream, the Israeli manufacturer of home carbonation systems that this year became a focal point of an international movement to boycott Israeli products made in the occupied West Bank, plans to close its factory there next year. The company’s stock and revenue have waned since the controversy erupted in January, when the actress Scarlett Johansson became its spokeswoman and resigned from a similar post at Oxfam International, which opposes Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.
In August the Washington Post ran an article entitled, "Celebrities Get Nasty Over Gaza and Israel," which began, "Your average celebrity feud starts with a personal slight that escalates into a hashtag-laden Twitter battle and culminates with a late-night talk show appearance. But when celebs fight about Israel and the Palestinians, things can get really ugly. Recently, Hollywood had a lot to say about the conflict in the region -- and much of it wasn't very nice."