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Houston Palestine Film Festival

For years, the Houston Palestine Film Festival has presented audiences with award-winning comedies, dramas, and documentaries from a rich and growing Palestinian cinema movement. The landmark 10th edition may be the festival’s most ambitious. From two-time Oscar nominee Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now; Omar) comes The Idol, based on Arab Idol winner and singing sensation Mohammed Assaf;  Amber Fares’ Speed Sisters is a raucously funny documentary about the Arab world’s first all-woman professional auto racing team. Mai Masri presents 3000 Nights, her debut feature-length drama. And from Palestinian provocateurs Arab and Tarzan Nasser comes Dégradé, set in a Gaza hair salon. HPFF screenings continue at Rice Cinema on May 20, 21, 27 and 28.

Admission
Film festival tickets are $10 general admission.
Museum members, students with ID, and seniors (65+) receive a $2 discount.

Past Films in This Series

 

Fix Me

2009, Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by Raed Andoni
Raed Andoni has a tension headache—one that has lasted generations and isn’t going to end soon. That's because Andoni is a Palestinian living in Ramallah, where the prospects for a stress-free life are elusive. Fix Me follows Andoni through 20 therapy sessions during which he explores the individual memories of Palestinians, both painful and ironic, featuring a colorful array of characters including his friends and family. Special ticket prices apply! Individual tickets are $10. MFAH members, senior adults, students with ... more info
 

The Imperialists Are Still Alive!

2010
Directed by Zeina Durra
WINNER OF THE BEST FILM AWARD AT THE 2011 SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL ASIAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL With a title taken from Jean Luc Godard’s La Chinoise, this “messy soup of art, alienation, partying and politics”(Variety) follows Asya (Élodie Bouchez), a successful visual artist in Manhattan. She meets and falls for a sexy med student (José María de Tavira) but finds herself completely distracted by news that a childhood friend has disappeared and may be a victim of a kidnapping in ... more info
 

Man without a Cell Phone

Ish lelo selolari

2010
Directed by Sameh Zoabi
Introduced by director Sameh Zoabi “Jawdat, a restless young concrete worker, just wants to have fun with his friends, talk on his cell phone and find love—a near impossible task in a place where politics and traditional values dominate. Adding to Jawdat's problems is his curmudgeonly father, Salem, who establishes the film's irreverent tone with his opening pronouncement of his people’s dilemma: 'Coexistence, my ass!' "Dragging Jawdat and the entire village into his outrageous battle against an Israeli cell-phone tower that he fears ... more info
 

The Kingdom of Women: Ein El Hilweh

2010, in Lebanese with English subtitles
Directed by Dahna Abourahme
"This documentary is an enchanting ode to the resilience, intelligence, and valor of Palestinian women from Ain el-Hilweh. The largest refugee camp in Lebanon, it has endured war and destruction through several Israeli invasions and the long-drawn-out Lebanese civil war. In recording the lived experiences of generations of mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives, director Dahna Abourahme collaborates with illustrator and animation artist Lena Merhej to produce a visually poetic register of a history doomed to remain oral." —Abu Dhabi Film ... more info
 

When I Saw You

Lamma Shoftak

2012, in Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by Annemarie Jacir
Film Festival ticket prices apply! Individual tickets are $10. MFAH Members, senior adults, and students with ID receive a $2 discount on tickets.  In the summer of 1967, Israeli forces seize control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Thousands of Palestinians pour into Jordan, some separated from their families by the chaos of war. Among them are 11-year-old Tarek and his mother ... more info
 

A World Not Ours

2012, in Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by Mahdi Fleifel
Film Festival ticket prices apply! General admission $10. MFAH members, students with ID, and seniors receive a $2 discount. Imbued with nostalgia and striking a wide range of emotional notes, Mahdi Fleifel travels to the Lebanese refugee camp of Ain El Helweh to explore how the camp's displaced people use the World Cup series to articulate their own ideas of home, community, victory, and hope. A World Not Ours is a dazzling act of first-person filmmaking that hits notes on a ... more info
 

Omar

2013, in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Omar is a meditation on trust, friendship and loyalty. Ever since the concrete Separation Wall divided their West Bank town, childhood friends Omar, Amjad, and Tarek must surreptitiously climb over the wall — risking their lives — just to hang out. Omar has an additional motive for dodging the punishing watch of the Israeli military and their bullets: he is in love with Nadia, Tarek's sister. He is saving his humble earnings as a baker until he is able to ask ... more info
 

Under the Same Sun

2013, in Arabic, Hebrew, and English with English subtitles
Directed by Sameh Zoabi
The director of Man Without a Cell Phone, which played in the 2011 Houston Palestine Film Festival, sets his new feature in the near future. The film follows two businessmen—one Palestinian and one Israeli—as they struggle to set up a solar energy company. Both come from societies where there is strong opposition to cooperating with the other, and the story follows how they overcome hostility from within their own families and from the people around them. In the end, they ... more info
 

The Wanted 18

2014, in Arabic, English, and Hebrew with English subtitles
Directed by Paul Cowan and Amer Shomali
The Wanted 18 re-creates a true story from the First Palestinian Intifada: The Israeli army's pursuit of 18 cows, whose independent milk production on a Palestinian collective farm was declared "a threat to the national security of the state of Israel." Tired of depending upon Israel and supporting the Israeli economy at their own detriment, the West Bank town of Beit Sahour decided to buy cows to produce their own milk as a cooperative. Their successful venture became a landmark, ... more info
 

Villa Touma

2014, in Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by Suha Arraf
After outgrowing the orphanage she has known her whole life, Badia (Maria Zreik) moves in with her three unmarried aunts: Violet (Ula Tabari), Antoinette (Cherien Dabis), and Juliette (Nisreen Faour). Seemingly trapped in time, the three Christian sisters behave as if their aristocratic social status still matters, despite the many changes that have come to Ramallah since the Six-Day War in 1967. Nonplussed by their new lodger, the sisters set about marrying her off to another family of high status—if ... more info
 

The Idol

Ya Tayr El Tayer

2015, in Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
A Skype Q&A with director Hany Abu-Assad follows the screening of The Idol. Acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now; Omar) directs this biopic about Mohammad Assaf, the Gazan wedding singer who became a worldwide sensation after winning the Arab Idol competition in 2013. Preceded by Ave Maria (directed by Basil Khalil, Palestine/France/Germany, 2015, 15 min., in Arabic English, and Hebrew with English subtitles), a comedy about an Israeli family who breaks down and disrupts the silence of five nuns ... more info
 

Theeb

2014, in Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by Naji Abu Nowar
Oscar nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film! The first Bedouin western, Theeb (which means “wolf” in Arabic) looks at the collision of East and West that occurred on the Arabian Peninsula during World War I. A young Bedouin boy utilizes the survival skills taught by his brother when they set out on a perilous desert journey to guide a British soldier. When bandits attack, Theeb and his brother must fend for themselves. Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat gives a mesmerizing and intrepid performance ... more info
 

3000 Nights

3000 Layla

2015, in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles
Directed by Mai Masri
Layal (Maisa Abd Elhadi), a newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher arrested after being falsely accused, is sentenced to eight years in prison. When she discovers she is pregnant, the prison director pressures her to abort the baby and spy on the Palestinian inmates. Layal is resilient, however, and gives birth to a baby boy. Through her struggle to raise her son behind bars, she manages to find a sense of hope and a meaning to her life. Prison conditions deteriorate and the ... more info
 

Trip Along Exodus

2014, in English and Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by Hind Shoufani
Filmmaker leads a Q&A following the screening This feature-length documentary explores the last 70 years of Palestinian politics as seen through the eyes of the filmmaker’s father, author and leftist intellectual Elias Shoufani (1932–2013). Trip Along Exodus follows his story from 1948 under occupation, to getting a PhD from Princeton in the 1960s, to giving up tenured professorship to join the underground in Beirut. He stayed there until moving to Syria, living in exile in war-torn Damascus.  more info