On October 14th 2021, Netflix launched their long-awaited Palestinian Stories collection which included a range of films and TV shows associated with the country’s history, past and present. Describing it as “the greatness of Palestinian cinema”, the streaming platform’s range initially consisted of 32 films, with additional pieces added over the span of a week. Though this move was slammed as controversial by some disgruntled Netflix fans, the majority saw this as a win as it helps to shine a light on the oppression the Palestinian people are facing as it continues to plague the country.
And while it’s important to give more than just five of these shows a watch, we’ve compiled a list of five essential pieces we think everyone needs to add to their lists. And not everything’s doom and gloom with this collection, oh no. There are some lighthearted and comedic shows that also aid us in better understanding normal, everyday Palestinian stories.
Have a look for yourselves.
Up first, we have 3000 Nights (2015).
Based on real-life events, this 1 hour and 35-minute movie tells the heart-wrenching story of a Palestinian newlywed who is wrongly accused of aiding a teenage boy who allegedly carried out a lethal attack on a military checkpoint. However, when she refused to lie to condemn the boy to harsher punishment, she was slammed with an 8-year prison sentence. Little did she know, she was pregnant. The film depicts her turmoils as a political prisoner while raising a baby boy within the walls of a cage.
Harrowing. Moving. Painful. You’ll need a few tissues for this one.
Next, Ave Maria (2015).
This short, fourteen-minute drama directed by Basil Khalil, a Palestinian-British man, shows us a comical encounter between Israeli settlers and Palestinian nuns after their car breaks down in front of a convent. Here, the settlers then get a little glimpse into what life is like for Palestinians on the West Bank.
Our third pick is Children of Shatila (1998).
In this older documentary, audiences are faced with the story of two children who are residing in Beirut’s Shatila refugee camp fifty years after their grandparents were exiled from Palestine. An exposing story about the truths of loss and war.
Up next is a slightly more unusual pick… Condom Lead (2013).
I mean, I think the title is very telling about this short film.
Again, in fourteen minutes, this film exposes a married Palestinian couple’s attempts at intimacy, which are repeatedly interrupted by the noise of Israeli bombs. And believe it or not, it was also nominated for the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
And last but not least, we have Pomegranates and Myrrh (2009).
Starring Yasmine Al Massri, Ashraf Farah and Ali Suliman, this film tells the story of a Palestinian woman who uses Dabke (a traditional folk dance) to cope with the loss of her husband after he is taken away by Israeli authorities. Using the political climate at the time without suffocating the actual plotline, this film walks the fine line between external and internal circumstances and how they can build or break a person.
There is also a follow-up to this film titled Eyes of a Thief (2014), which is also available to watch on Netflix.
So there you go. Note these down and spend this weekend binging, it’s healthy, I promise. And if you have any other good suggestions, let us know via Instagram.