Chicago Palestine Film Fest celebrates 15 years

The Chicago Palestine Film Festival is the longest running festival of its kind and has continued to grow since its inception in 2001.

The two week festival’s opening night is April 16 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. The 15th annual film festival’s fundraiser will be held on February 12th at the Masada restaurant.

The festival’s goal each year is to allow Palestinian artists to gain the support needed in order to prosper within the mainstream art community. With that, CPFF believes successful Palestinian artists will give others a better chance at succeeding.

“There was a time when the Chicago Palestine Film Festival first started where it would be a struggle to find Palestinian film-makers, we would find maybe one or two—but this year we had so many submissions and now we have seven features. That just goes to say that Palestinian art is perpetually growing,” CPFF’s Executive Director Jameeleh Shelo told Palestine in America.

This years’ festival includes a variety of genres, ranging from comedies to documentaries. A few films that will be shown include, “The Idol,” a Palestinian drama that tells the story of Mohammed Assaf, directed by Hany Abu-Assad; “Speed Sisters,” a film that tells the story of an all-female Palestinian racing team, directed by Amber Fares;  and “Degrade,” a comedy about twelve women trapped in a salon in the Gaza Strip, directed by Tarzan and Arab Nasser.

“Palestinians are humans too. We are not consumed by war and conflict. We’re humans that are trying to live our lives in the midst of conflict. We’re survivors. These are our stories,” Jameeleh said.

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Bayan Jaber

Bayan Jaber is a Palestinian-American youth who was born in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Jerusalem, Palestine and Albuquerque, NM. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a concentration in Peace, Conflict, and Diplomacy as well as a regional concentration in the Middle-East and Asia at the University of New Mexico.

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