The Void Project

12 September 2021

Run Time

109 mins
Tickets available soon

The filmmakers of the Palestine Film Institute, PFI, which are the creators of these films, perceived their cinema to be different in its form and content to that which was being made in the West. Through the institute, they wanted to create films that changed the world and challenge Western concepts. Many filmmakers and artists from around the world joined the PFI, to participate in the creation of an alternative narrative, among them was Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Genet and many others. As a filmmaker myself, I find this fascinating, and I want to share its beauty with you. I chose The Fifth War (1978), because it embodies the effort and work of artists from around the world to retell the Palestinian narrative. It is a film that was codirected by Samir Nimer, an Iraqi filmmaker, and Monica Maurer, a German filmmaker. The film also stars British actress Vanessa Redgrave.

All the films that I have chosen have been made with the Western audience in mind, where the filmmakers engages with the role of introducing the audience to what has happened to Palestine and the Palestinians, and tell them what the Palestinian movement is doing to challenge the injustice that has been inflicted on it’s people.

Two of the films, The Urgent Call for Palestine (1973) and Glows of Memories (1975), are by the prominent Palestinian painter Ismael Shamout. These films are his only attempt to use a different medium to work through his art concepts. His art work, which usually focused on depicting Palestinian life prior to expulsion and the aftermath of the expulsion, is presented in Glows of Memories as intercuts to the actual real life events which led to the creation of the art pieces; making the viewer constantly aware of the connection between art and human real life events. Driven by strong political convictions, Shammout makes a call in The Urgent Call of Palestine, to fellow Jews urging them to not be led by colonial intervention in the region.

The last film in the collection, The Road to Palestine (1985) by Layali Bader, stands out from the rest, as it is a children’s animation film. I chose this beautiful short film, not only because it is probably the Institute’s first attempt to make an animation film, but because it is probably one of the last films that were made by the PFI. Bader was sent to the GDR to learn and make an animation film, while she was in Germany, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon and looted the PFI archives. That was in 1982, and it wasn’t until 1985 that Bader on her own managed to finish the film and release it. —Azza El Hassan

The Fifth War

(Al Harb Al Kamisah)

Fronted by Vanessa Redgrave and narrated entirely in English, The Fifth War gives a visceral account of the 1978 ‘Litani Operation’, in which Israeli forces invaded south Lebanon aiming to eradicate the PLO.

A war documentary that stands as an example of both the possibilities of international solidarity and also its dangers. Co-directed by an Iraqi and German filmmaker and starring a British actress, its proximity to the violence of the Litani Operation resulted in the loss of two of its members during filming. —Jemma Desai

Director Biographies

Monica Maurer (Germany) is an independent filmmaker. Maurer originally studied Sociology and Communication Sciences in Munich and Berlin at University. She later worked as a journalist for several newspapers in Germany and for the US-based radical magazine “Ramparts”. Maurer has been making films since the 60s. Between 1977 and 1982 she made films in cooperation with the Palestinian Cinema Institution and the Information Department of the PRCS. Currently she is working on digitising her film archive and on a film project-in-progress entitled SHOOTING REVOLUTION. She is also a member of the Board of Archive of the Working Class Movement (AAMOD).

Director Filmographies

Palestine in Flames (1988/89), Listen! (1985), War Lab (1984), Why? (1982), ASHBAL-Pulse of Life (1981), YOM AL ARD (1981), Born out of Death (1981), The Fifth War (1980), Children of Palestine (1979), Palestine Red Crescent (1978)

Production Year

1980

Directors

Countries

Dialogue Languages

Arabic English

Subtitle Language

English

Primary Contact

Monica Maurer

Editor

Mauro Contini

Director of photography

Tawfik Musa Edward Al Qash Mohamed Awad Samir Nimr

Sound design

Hussein Younes Shahir Soumi

Music composer

Huseyin M. Nazeq

Production company

Palestinian Cinema Institute Samed for Cinema Production

Coproduction company

Archivio Audiovisivo del Movimento Operaio e Democratico

The Urgent Call of Palestine

(Nida Filinstin)

In this short film, Shammout records a solidarity song by the Palestinian Egyptian singer Zeinab Shaath announcing the urgent call of Palestine. The song is punctuated by the words of poet Kamal Nasser, which continue to hold striking relevance today. —Jemma Desai

Director Biography

Ismail Shammout (1930 – 2006, Palestine) was a painter, art historian and filmmaker. He is known as a pioneer of modern Palestinian art. Living through the 1948 Palestinian exodus (Nakba) and facing exile from Palestine, Shammout depicted the many struggles he faced throughout his artistic career. Shammout and his family marched from his hometown, Lydda, to the Khan Younis camp in Gaza when the artist was eighteen. This experience shaped the life of the artist as he became actively involved in regional politics. He graduated from the College of Fine Arts in Cairo (1950) and later from the Academia De Bella Arti in Rome (1954). Shammout was part of the Palestine Exhibition of 1954 in Cairo, inaugurated by president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Shammout became the Director of Arts and National Culture for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1965. The PLO awarded him the Revolutionary Shield for Arts and Literature, the Jerusalem Medal for Culture, Arts and Literature, and The Palestine Prize for the Arts. The Arab Thought Forum awarded him The Creative Prize for Arab Painting. An annual prize in his name is awarded for excellent Palestinian painting. His works have been acquired by several Arab and international museums.

Director Filmography

Glows of Memories (1975), The Urgent Call of Palestine (1973)

Production Year

1973

Director

Country

Dialogue Language

English

Subtitle Language

English

Primary Contact

Bashar Shammout

Music performer

Zeinab Shaath

Distribution (Worldwide)

Bashar Shammout

Glows of Memories

(Zikriat wa Nar)

Ismail Shammout, a Palestinian painter, also served as director of the Cultural Arts Section of the PLO and worked with the organization’s Film Unit in the 1970s. In this one of his few film works he unravels the memories within his painting Memories and Fire.

Using a non verbal style utilised by early Soviet filmmakers, comprising archival photographs and Shammout’s own paintings, a story of Palestinian experience and resistance is communicated across language boundaries. —Jemma Desai

Director Biography

Ismail Shammout (1930 – 2006, Palestine) was a painter, art historian and filmmaker. He is known as a pioneer of modern Palestinian art. Living through the 1948 Palestinian exodus (Nakba) and facing exile from Palestine, Shammout depicted the many struggles he faced throughout his artistic career. Shammout and his family marched from his hometown, Lydda, to the Khan Younis camp in Gaza when the artist was eighteen. This experience shaped the life of the artist as he became actively involved in regional politics. He graduated from the College of Fine Arts in Cairo (1950) and later from the Academia De Bella Arti in Rome (1954). Shammout was part of the Palestine Exhibition of 1954 in Cairo, inaugurated by president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Shammout became the Director of Arts and National Culture for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1965. The PLO awarded him the Revolutionary Shield for Arts and Literature, the Jerusalem Medal for Culture, Arts and Literature, and The Palestine Prize for the Arts. The Arab Thought Forum awarded him The Creative Prize for Arab Painting. An annual prize in his name is awarded for excellent Palestinian painting. His works have been acquired by several Arab and international museums.

Director Filmography

Glows of Memories (1975), The Urgent Call of Palestine (1973)

Production Year

1975

Director

Country

Road to Palestine

Seven-year-old Layla lives in a refugee camp outside Palestine. Her father was killed and she was badly injured from an air raid. We share the life of Layla and her friends, who tell us how they imagine Palestine despite them having never seen it. —Jemma Desai

Director Biography

Layaly Badr wrote children’s stories before she turned to filmmaking. She studied filmmaking in Germany and screenwriting at the New York Film Academy. Badr has been awarded several awards for her films and television work and published two books, Lobana Wal Qamar and Nahr Wa Shajara. Her films are distinguished musicals, combining live action with animation. Badr was the head of ART Children’s Channel before moving into the cinema industry as a producer and distributor. She worked as a managing director in the two biggest networks in the Middle East: ART and Rotana. She has also worked as a consultant for two of Egyptian networks: Al Nahar and ON TV.

Director Filmography

Road to Palestine (1985)

Production Year

1985

Director

Countries

Dialogue Language

Arabic

Subtitle Language

English