28 April 2008 - The 7th annual Chicago Palestine Film Festival kicked off on Friday, 25 March at the Gene Siskel Film Center with director Jackie Salloum at the screening of her film Slingshot Hip Hop. The PFF began in 2001 as a student project. The festival was founded by Danya Qato. It exists exist today because of the huge contributions from Danya and the other "alumni" commitee members: Widad Al Bassam, Rena Barakat, Christopher Khoury, Stacy Goldate, Jenny Gheith, Farris Wahbeh, Dwan Kaoukji, Mona Aburmishan, and others.
This year's selection includes filmmakers from Palestine, Norway, USA and Japan presenting motion pictures covering the Palestinian experience in the Palestine, Israel, the US and even Cuba. The program has a mix of features and documentaries, including shorts, that are screening until 8 May when it closes with Mohammad Alatar's Jerusalem: The East Side Story.
According to festival director Benjamin Doherty, the PFF exists "to share new views of Palestine with Chicago audiences." Houston festival organizer Sousan Hammad says the "festival hasn't been around very long but we have a small pool of great filmmakers so we definitely have the potential to get on the international cinema circuit," and compares the Palestinian filmmaking situation to that of Iran in that with concentrated support from abroad, the profile of Iranian films has risen steadily despite an oppressive government. In addition to supporting films about Palestine and by Palestinians, Hammad states that it can help advance the cause of Palestinian liberation as "the camera can be used as a tool to reveal the conflict," and can help dispel "notions or assumptions that have polluted the understanding of Palestine and the wider region."Read more
Interview with Susan Hammad & Benjamin Doherty | PFF reviews by CIMC