ABU DHABI // Broadcasters should not be afraid of addressing the issue of 60 years of division in the Palestine Territories, a panel of film directors said yesterday. The panel's moderator, Kais al Zubaidi, called on film-makers and broadcasters to push for more screenings of films and documentaries made on the issue. He said films from around the world had made the "understanding of Palestine" as well known and documented as it is today, taking concepts such as "intifada" to an international audience.
Organisers of film festivals, he said, as well as broadcasters, are "scared" of showing pro-Palestinian movies for fear of the repercussions from the pro-Israel lobby. It was imperative that films were translated into the two key languages, English and Arabic, he added. "There are some great German and Dutch movies for example, but we are facing the problems of translation." He voiced his frustration that there were not more films shown at this year's MEIFF because of the lack of time in which to translate them.
This, as well as getting the films in digital format, were two of the obstacles he said they had faced in collating a series of films to mark this year's 60th commemoration of division. "We already have many difficulties in screening films on Palestine," he said. "Not just in the West but in the Arab world also. We face technical difficulties and we don't have enough equipment or techniques to show these movies in the Arab world."
One of the three other panel members - all European directors whose films have featured in this year's MEIFF special feature on the Palestinian Territories - spoke of his success in encouraging the involvement of Palestinians in the film industry. In 1990, German-born Robert Krieg established a training centre for Palestinians after discovering that there were no home-grown staff to use on his film projects.
With funding from the German government, the centre was established in east Jerusalem. It was such a success that it received more funding from the European Council to launch the first official Palestinian radio station. The panel's Italian member, Marco Puccioni, who has made several documentaries on the Palestinian issue, said "it is the least we can do to use our camera to fight against a form of colonialism and fascism". He too called on fellow film-makers to push for their movies to be shown.