Anandi Ramamurthy Researcher blog on building audiences for Palestinian Films: The Love and Desire in Palestine programme

About the author

Dr Anandi Ramamurthy is a Reader in Post-Colonial Cultures and Senior Lecturer in Media at Sheffield Hallam University. Her primary research interests are focused on critically analysing ‘race’ and postcoloniality in media and culture to challenge hegemonies and give voice to the voiceless. Dr Anandi Ramamurthy is currently conducting research on representations of Palestine.

In this blog post, Dr Ramamurthy discusses the ‘Love and Design in Palestine’ film screenings through Creative Interruptions, an AHRC funded research project which focusses on how marginalised communities use the arts, media and creativity to challenge exclusion.

Over the past two and a half years, the Creative Interruptions research project has sought to understand the difficulties faced in building audiences for Palestinian Cinema in the UK. We have adopted a research praxis that has involved curating programmes of Palestinian films and screening them in a variety of independent cinemas and film clubs in the UK. We have worked towards developing a network of clubs and interest groups keen to support the screening of Palestinian films.

In February 2019, to coincide with the month of Valentine’s, Cinema Palestino and Creative Interruptions curated a programme of films about love under occupation. Like the 2018 70 Years of Nakba programme, it enabled the screening of Palestinian short films. The screening of short films allows UK audiences to appreciate the diversity of Palestinian filmmaking.

For ‘Love and Desire in Palestine’ we worked with Cinema Palestino in Sheffield and Manchester, West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Gentle Radical Film Club in Cardiff. In Cardiff and Birmingham the screening was followed by audience discussions with local Palestinians, artists and academic researchers.

Image provided by Dr Anandi Ramamurthy

In Manchester and Sheffield, we were fortunate enough to have director Nahed Awad join us for the Q&As. In Sheffield we were also able to link up with Samer, the protagonist of Gaza Calling to find out about his life today and his new film Fishless Sea, which we hope to screen in Sheffield in the future. At the end of all the screenings audience members were able to send love to young people in Palestine by writing postcards which we will send to school children in Gaza.

Student Ellen Lawrence-Clery in Manchester was deeply moved by the programme and wrote of her experience in a blog post for Creative Interruptions:

‘Love of all kinds is put to the test as Palestinians attempt to maintain normalcy and intimacy while living under occupation and siege in the screening Love and Desire in Palestine. … The three works by Palestinian filmmakers reveal what are day to day realities for the people of their country, but remain largely unknown to the rest of the world’.

Of Condom Lead she wrote:

‘Condom Lead has no dialogue and all takes place in one apartment, the smooth camera movements and orderly lines of the set setting a harsh contrast to the violence heard off screen. Brothers Mohammed and Ahmad Abou Nasser explore a couple’s search for intimacy in the midst of violence. Each time that the sounds of gunfire and bombing interrupt them the husband blows the unused condom into a balloon for their small child to play with. As the days of conflict wear on their lost moments of intimacy pile up in corners and float about the apartment, nothing but air.’

The full review can be read here on the Creative Interruptions site.

The films were described by audience members as ‘very powerful’, ‘very atmospheric’, ‘hit a nerve’, ‘it opened my eyes to day-to-day life in Palestine’, ‘surprising’. Audiences said they learned new things such as: ‘That Palestine is more than its misfortunes.’; ‘ways of getting pregnant!’; ‘The horror & sadness of it all’; ‘sperm smuggling’; ‘Middle class life in Palestine’; ‘That the Israeli occupation is not primary military ‘the real human impact of the occupation on all aspects of Palestinian life’; ‘How difficult it is to travel in Palestine’; ‘The degree of bureaucracy’; the ‘NGO’s are not as effective’

The project hopes to develop a network of groups and individuals interested in screening Palestinian films in their locality.

Anandai recently introduced the wider work of the project at an OTO screening and discussion event in June.

Join the network

If you are interested in joining this network, please contact Dr Anandi Ramamurthy (Reader in Post-Colonial Cultures, Sheffield Hallam University).