2016 Witness Palestine Film Series


2016 Witness Palestine Film Series

Witness Palestine Film Festival 2016
Dates: September 18 – 26, 2016
The Little Theatre, #5

In its fifth year, Witness Palestine Film Festival presents four different programs at The Little:

Sunday, September 18, 2016, 2:00 p.m. 3000 Nights
Monday, September 19, 6:45 p.m. The Idol
Sunday, September 25, 2:00 p.m. Two Blue Lines
Monday, September 26, 6:45 p.m. Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!

The conflict in Palestine/Israel is decades old and so is the dispossession of the Palestinian people. However, this conflict is not presented as a human rights issue in mainstream American media. It is highly politicized and distorted. The idea of the Witness Palestine Film Festival is to address such misconceptions by screening documentary and narrative films about the conflict, compelling films which illustrate the realities on the ground in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

2016 Theme: When We See Them, We See Us

We realize that the American- and Israeli/Palestinian societies are microcosms of the same struggle for human rights, with power and privilege making it hard for dominant groups, as well as the state, to see their racism. As we witness Palestine at the Festival this year, we endeavor to make these connections and highlight our common humanity in order to push for social justice everywhere.

3000 Nights

Sunday, September 18, 2016, 2:00 p.m.
The Little Theatre, #5
Duration: 103 minutes
Film Type: Dramatized documentary
Language: Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles
Link to the Witness Palestine Film Festival’s web site: http://witnesspalestinerochester.org/2016/3000-nights-4/
Link to the film producer’s trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1rn7w3VNp4

Price: $10 general, $5 student


According to text from the film:

Since 1948 over 700,000 Palestinians have been detained in Israeli prisons

In November 1983, the PLO obtained the release of 4,765 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in exchange for 6 Israeli soldiers capture in south Lebanon

There are now over 6,000 Palestinian men, women, and children in Israeli prisons

This is the story of one of them, Layla Asfour, who is arrested in the opening scene, blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to an Israeli women’s detention center housing Israeli and Palestinian prisoners. After significant interrogation, she gets a lawyer, a perfunctory trial, and a sentence of 8 years in prison, about the time mentioned in the title.

The film depicts Layla’s legal representation, visits from her family, her interactions with both Israeli and Palestinian prisoners, and an interesting development in her own life.

A panel discussion immediately follows the screening. Hana Chamoun, who plays Fidaa in the film, will be will us in person.

The Idol

Monday, September 19, 2016, 6:45 p.m.
The Little Theatre, #5
Duration: 97 minutes
Film Type: Documentary / Drama / Narrative feature film
Language: Spanish and Arabic with subtitles
Link to the Witness Palestine Film Festival’s web site:
Link to the film producer’s trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP3IwALna08

Price: $10 general, $5 student


"A simply told but thoroughly captivating portrait of Muhammad Assaf, the Gazan singer who won “Arab Idol” at age 23 and became an irresistible symbol of hope for Palestinians worldwide"
-- Justin Chang, Variety

The Idol is based on the true story of Mohammed Assaf's childhood with a ragtag group of children who spend their time roaming Gaza, playing, and trying to start their own band. Mohammed is only ten years old when his twelve-year-old sister Nour convinces him that his exceptional voice will someday take him far beyond the borders of Gaza. Through the eyes of the children, we see the everyday sights of Palestinian life n Gaza. We see them struggle to earn money for their musical instruments. We see the children deal with tragedy, each child in the band coping in different ways.

Fast-forward to a teenage Mohammed in 2012 and we again see the way Gaza and its people have changed. Mohammed drives a taxi and still dreams of a singing career. He finds the inspiration to follow his dream when tryouts for the "Arab Idol" competition are held in Cairo. Mohammed makes it out of Gaza and enters the competition. As a contestant, Mohammed is inspired by his childhood experiences, by his need to sing, and by the chance to represent the Palestinian people. At the end of the film, we ourselves are inspired by Mohammed's actual on-air "Arab Idol" performances.

Two Blue Lines

Sunday, September 25, 2016, 2:00 p.m.
The Little Theatre, #5
Duration: 99 minutes
Film Type: Documentary
Language: English; some Arabic and Hebrew with English sub-titles
Link to the Witness Palestine Film Festival’s web site:
Link to the film producer’s trailer: https://vimeo.com/102777023

Price: $10 general, $5 student

Until you take your (next) study tour of Palestine/Israel, this film provides an excellent overview of the topic. As with a study tour, it’s up to you to draw your own conclusions from the approximately 25 voices speaking about the situation from the years prior to the creation of Israeli to the present day. Many historical clips are featured.

Subjects covered include:

Who was there first?
The Balfour Declaration
The British Mandate
Buildings and public spaces constructed on sites of Palestinian villages; declaration of land a Israeli “state land” and therefore open to Israeli use
House demolitions
Different legal systems for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
The Oslo Accords
Settlements and views of settlers
Effective Israeli control of West Bank; internal travel controls; Israeli-only roads
Lack of services in Arab sections of Jerusalem; done with a purpose
Water rights and use
Impact of UN resolutions and the use of U.S. vetoes in the Security Council
U.S. aid to Israel
Gaza = “internment camp”
Population ratios west of the Jordan River, Arab/Jewish

The title is a reference to the design of the Israeli flag.

Filmmaker Tom Hayes will be with us in person to lead a discussion immediately following the screening.

Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!

Monday, September 26, 2016, 6:45 p.m.
The Little Theatre, #5
Duration: 56 minutes
Film Type: Documentary
Language: English
Link to the Witness Palestine Film Festival’s web site:
Link to the film producer’s trailer: https://vimeo.com/125630192

Price: $10 general, $5 student


The term “Pinkwashing” refers to Israeli government’s propaganda campaign to brand Israel as a safe haven for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people; to paint Palestinian and Arab cultures as unfriendly to the same; and to divert attention from the Israeli government’s abuses in occupying Palestinian Territories.

The film focuses on planned meetings and programs in Seattle in March 2012 by the brand-Israel campaign. Protests against the topic and programs led to their cancellation.

The activists produced the film; one of them is the director.

Backlash at the cancellation is also shown. It came from other local groups such as the Jewish Federation, the Business Association, and the City Council. However the events and controversy also led to formation of a new group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, QuAIA.

As has been the format since the beginning of the Witness Palestine Film Festival, a discussion will immediately follow the screening. Local “pinkwashing” activist Isabelle Bartter will be with us in person.

Tickets available at the door or through The Little’s online ticket sales, thelittletickets.org/boxoffice/

General: $10
Student: $5

Further information is on the film series’ web site, WitnessPalestineRochester.org

*Tickets available at the Theater 2-5 box office, daily 6 - 10 p.m. and weekends 12 - 10 p.m.

The Witness Palestine Film Series is organized by an interfaith committee (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) and is sponsored by Christians Witnessing for Palestine

Upcoming films for this Series

This series does not have anything scheduled right now.

Past films from this Series

Special Screening
Special One-Time Screening
Nov 16, 2014
Duration: 95mins
Rating: Not Rated
The setting is 1967 and at a refugee camp near Amman, Jordan. New refugees are arriving frequently in the aftermath of the six-day war – joining some who came after the Nakba. Ghaydaa and her 11-year...