Palestinians aim to promote local cinema

Launches new award to stimulate filmmaking culture

In this Thursday Oct. 20, 2016 photo, Palestinian producer May Odeh, holds the Sunbird Short Film Award trophy for the film entitled “Izriqaq (Blued),” during the Days Of Cinema awards ceremony, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Filmlab, a Palestinian nonprofit backed by European partners, has launched a new cinema prize in an attempt to encourage the local filmmaking industry and cinema culture in the Palestinian territories. The film organization hopes the “Sunbird Prize” will become the Palestinian version of the Oscars. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

In this Thursday Oct. 20, 2016 photo, Palestinian producer May Odeh, holds the Sunbird Short Film Award trophy for the film entitled “Izriqaq (Blued),” during the Days Of Cinema awards ceremony, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Filmlab, a Palestinian nonprofit backed by European partners, has launched a new cinema prize in an attempt to encourage the local filmmaking industry and cinema culture in the Palestinian territories. The film organization hopes the “Sunbird Prize” will become the Palestinian version of the Oscars. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

RAMALLAH, West Bank  — A Palestinian film organization has launched a new cinema award in an attempt to stimulate the local filmmaking industry and promote cinema culture in the Palestinian territories.

Filmlab, a local nonprofit backed by European partners, hopes the “Sunbird Prize” will grow to become the Palestinian version of the Oscars. A jury of four Palestinians and two European cinema experts chose Thursday night’s winners.

The jury awarded prizes, named after a local bird, to one short and one feature length film out of 80 total entries. A large number of local VIPs, including the Palestinian culture minister, attended the event.

Reflecting the immediate concerns of Palestinians, both of Thursday’s winners dealt with the conflict with Israel.

The short, entitled “Izriqaq (Blued),” tells the story of a man who kills his father, then leaves the body next to an Israeli checkpoint. Local villagers, believing the father was killed by Israeli troops, venerate him as a “martyr,” and his son gets away with the crime.

“We have been living in a circle of violence. The Israeli occupation created this cycle of violence, and a new generation was born violent because of that,” said May Odeh, the film’s producer. “The real story is about a man who is violent as a result of the circle of violence around himself and the society,” she said.

A second prize was given to “Ambulance,” a documentary about an ambulance driver in the Gaza Strip during the 2012 conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.

The prize capped the week-long Days of Cinema festival, which screened dozens of Palestinian and foreign movies in five cities across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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