For the NEW YORK TIMES: Casting a wide net over the topic of Palestine, the 2012 London Palestine Film Festival kicked off last week, presenting contemporary comedic and dramatic films, a 1974 Susan Sontag documentary, and video installations.
British premieres, exclusive double-bills and conversations with contemporary Palestinian directors will be held through May 3 at three London venues: the Barbican Cinema, the Khalili Lecture Theater at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and Darwin Theater on the campus of University College London.
This year’s festival features more than 50 works from 16 countries, including new Palestinian comedy, drama and shorts from artists such as Ursula Biemann, Mike Hoolboom, and Travis Wilkerson. On Wednesday is a screening of Susan Sontag’s only documentary, “Promised Lands,” and next week brings a screening of a French-Maoist Palestine manifesto called “L’Olivier.”
On Thursday, the New York University Cultural Studies professor Ella Shohat will give a talk, illustrated with film excerpts, on the political history of Israeli cinema. Themed events will cover topics such as the Druze minority in Israel, and the Iraq War. An exhibition called “Navigations: Palestinian Video Art, 1988 to 2011″ (through Thursday) will survey work by video artists practicing in Palestine and abroad.
Begun in 1998 at SOAS, the film festival has operated under the umbrella of the nonprofit Palestine Film Foundation since 2004. Woven into many of the festival’s films may be what Nicholas Blincoe of The Guardian once called a mix of wry wit and self-doubt.
Image: a still from “Palestine in the South,” courtesy of the Palestine Film Foundation