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Reel Palestine Film Festival returns to Cinema Akil in 2021

Independent cinema buffs will be pleased to hear that the Reel Palestine Film Festival is set to return for a seventh time from Friday, January 22.

The community-driven festival, which is run by volunteers, is a collaboration between Reel Palestine and Cinema Akil, the UAE’s first and only art house film theatre. It aims to bring the best of cinema from Palestine and its diaspora.

Stories of love, family, joy, heartbreak, dancing and the creative spirit of humanity are promised this year, as films by international award-winning directors, as well as up-and-coming first-time filmmakers, will be screened for nine days. This includes more than 25 narrative and documentary features, plus shorts, in genres such as science fiction and romantic comedies.

Feature films on the programme include 200 Metres, directed by Ameen Nayfeh, which tells the story of Mustafa and his wife Salwa, who live 200 metres apart in villages separated by a wall.

Then there’s Between Heaven and Earth, by Najwa Najjar, which revolves around the divorce of a 30-something couple who live in Ramallah.

Meanwhile, documentary film Mayor, by director David Osit, follows Musa Hadid, the Christian mayor of Ramallah during his second term in office. Another documentary film, Stranger at Home, tells the story of the exiled Palestinian artist Kamal Boullata.

There are also a range of short films on the agenda. This includes nine short films by renowned Palestinian filmmakers under the title Reflections from Palestine during Covid-19.

What else is on the agenda?

The festival is about so much more than film. There will also be a souq, in collaboration with Kave at Alserkal Avenue, where people can peruse stalls by local vendors and enjoy workshops, such as embroidery and jewellery making, as well as an authentic Palestinian breakfast on select days.

Radio Alhara, a community radio project by artists, musicians and DJs that began in Bethlehem and Ramallah, will also be streaming daily at Cinema Akil.

Finally, Gulf Photo Plus will also be exhibiting the works of Yazan Kopty, who collaborated with filmmakers Dima Srouji, Milena Desse and Vivien Sansour in a series of conversations that connect archival images of Palestine with contemporary film.

For the full programme and screening times, click here.

Safety measures

Cinema Akil has implemented strict safety measures to keep festival-goers safe this year. This includes reducing the capacity of the cinema to 30 per cent, a maximum of 35 people.

Other measures include the cinema room and its seats being disinfected daily, a two-metre distance being kept between patrons, mandatory mask wearing, contactless payments and online ticket purchases, and bathrooms being disinfected after every use.