Films depicting Palestinian life under occupation have long served as potent tools for understanding the impact of the "Israeli" apartheid regime. Highlighting the humanity of ordinary individuals, they dismantle myths created by ruthless Zionist settler colonisers. Here are some you can watch:
- Farha (2021)
Available on Netflix India (1h 32m)
Director: Darin J. Salam
Farha has always dreamt of going to school in the city, but when she is about to leave, all hell breaks loose. Her idyllic life turns upside down during the drastic events of the 1948 al-Naqba or the Catastrophe. Her father locks her up in the pantry of their village home to keep her safe from Zionist soldiers. No one seems to return until a family breaks into the house. Farha watches from a hole in the wall as occupying forces take over. The film is based on a true story of a survivor called Radiah.
2. Salt of This Sea (2008)
Available on Netflix India (1h 49m)
Director: Annemarie Jacir
Soraya was born in the so-called US to Palestinian refugees. She wants to return to Palestine for good. On the other hand, Emad, born in Palestine, wants to leave forever. Zionist authorities won’t let either of them choose. Emad helps Soraya sneak into occupied territory to visit her family home, where a Jewish woman now lives. Salt of This Sea is a testament to how Palestinian assets are stolen with impunity and how constant surveillance keeps them from moving freely.
3. Pomegranates and Myrrh (2009)
Available on Netflix India (1h 34m)
Director: Najwa Najjar
This is the story of Kamar, a Palestinian Christian woman, her family, and their family olive grove. Kamar is recently wedded when her husband is wrongfully imprisoned. A visiting choreographer in her dance troupe presents a romantic possibility.
With great finesse, the film tackles difficult themes of appropriation of agricultural land, incarceration, and military courts. It also demonstrates how Palestinian women navigate both patriarchal pressures within the community and the violence of brutal Zionist oppression.
4. Omar (2013)
Available on Netflix India (1h 36m)
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Omar, a baker, frequently scales an "Israeli"-built wall to visit his love interest. He is also involved with the local resistance against the occupation. The film deals with Omar’s complicated experience as he is forced into collaborating as an "Israeli" spy and faces stigma from his community. It portrays the deep chasms that exist in the lives of people living under an occupation that creates paranoia and distrust. Director Hany Abu-Assad is also known for his critically acclaimed Paradise Now (2005). Omar was nominated for an Oscar and is the first film entirely funded by Palestinians.
5. 3000 Nights (2015)
Available on Netflix India (1h 43m)
Director: Mai Masri
Mai Masri’s film provides a glimpse into the lives of imprisoned Palestinian women. Layal, a school teacher, is pregnant when she is wrongfully accused. She gives birth and tries to raise her son in prison, where "Israeli" prisoners call her newborn “another little terrorist.” Layal joins Palestinian prisoners in a strike against the cruel guardians. The emotionally riveting story is based on director Mai Masri’s interviews with real-life former prisoners and is shot in a prison in Jordan.
6. Born in Gaza (2014)
Available on Netflix India (1h 18m)
Director: Hernán Zin
This hard-hitting documentary examines the aftermath of the 2014 bombings on Gaza through the eyes of ten Palestinian children dealing with psychological trauma. The children weigh the heavy cost of a stolen childhood and bear the burden of surviving through conflict-related poverty. Almost a decade later, as we witness Gaza turn into a “graveyard for children,” this film, looking at the past, ironically propels us into imagining what the future might hold for children who survive the current assault.
7. Israelism (2023)
Available on Kinema.com (1h 24m)
Director: Erin Axelman, Sam Eilertsen
Israelism is a chilling revelation of how young Jewish people are indoctrinated into the violent ideology of Zionism. It also explores how more and more former Zionists are speaking out against the “Israeli" occupation. The film aims to show how Jewish attitudes towards “Israel” could be changing dramatically, with massive consequences for the region.
8. Reel Bad Arabs (2006)
Available on YouTube
Director: Sut Jhally
A must-watch film on how the world’s biggest culture-producing machine, Hollywood, has been dehumanising Arab people. The film is based on the book, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People by Jack G Shaheen. The author studied more than one thousand films “ranging from the earliest most obscure days of Hollywood to today’s biggest blockbusters”. Portraying Arab people, especially men, as hateful, incompetent, and violent, this trend has had a strong impact on people’s psyche. The emerging narrative model paints Palestinian resistance as offensive rather than defensive.
9. Jenin, Jenin (2002)
Available on Netflix India / YouTube
Director: Mohammad Bakri
A 2021 "Israeli" court banned the film and ordered that all its copies be seized. It tells the story of the 2002 assault on the Jenin refugee camp and features striking survival testimonies. During the Second Intifada (Palestinian uprising against the occupation in the early 2000s), "Israeli" soldiers shot at a peaceful demonstration in which director Bakri was participating. Bakri sneaked into the Jenin refugee camp to film. Producer Iyad Samoudiwas was killed by "Israeli" soldiers soon after the filming ended.