Films | Palestine Film Fest

ESPA supports an end to the decades-long Occupation of Palestine, including demanding that the current siege/blockade on Gaza be lifted, and all settlement-building be halted. This programming theme aims to put a human face on the disproportionate majority of victims - the Palestinians - in the ongoing conflict.

SUMMARY (Film & Presentation Bios Below):

Fri, Oct. 23 (Metro Cinema):
  • 8:30pm:
    American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein *Canadian Premiere!

Sun, Oct. 25 (Metro Cinema):
  • 2pm:
    The Color of Olives  *Canadian Premiere!
  • 4pm:
    Telling Strings  *Canadian Premiere!
  • 6pm:
    Beyond Blue & Gray: Portraits of Palestinian Creativity Under Occupation
  • 7pm:
    Art & Apathy: Israeli Conscience & Culture
  • 2:30pm:
    Palestine Blues   *Canadian Premiere!

Mon, Oct. 26 (Edmonton Room, Stanley Milner Library):
  • 1pm:
    Occupation 101
  • 5pm:
    Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land
  • 6:30pm:
    DINNER BREAK (more info below)
  • 7pm:
    Special Guest Speaker MORDECAI BRIEMBERG:CAN WE TALK? (more info below)
Friday, October 23th
American Radical
Directed by David Ridgen
and Nicolas Rossier
USA/Canada, 2009, 84 min.
Playing at Metro Cinema
Watch Trailer

American Radical is the probing, definitive documentary about American academic Norman Finkelstein. A devoted son of holocaust survivors, ardent critic of Israel and US Mid-East policy, and author of five provocative books including, "The Holocaust Industry", Finkelstein has been steadfast at the center of many intractable controversies, including his recent denial of tenure at DePaul University. Called a lunatic and disgusting self-hating Jew by some, and an inspirational street-fighting revolutionary by others, Finkelstein is a deeply polarizing figure whose struggles arise from core questions about freedom, identity and nationhood.

From Beirut to Kyoto, the filmmakers follow Finkelstein around the world as he attempts to negotiate a voice among both supporters and critics, providing an intimate portrait of the man behind the controversy while giving equal time to both his critics and supporters.

Features interviews with Finkelstein, Alan Dershowitz, Noam Chomsky, John Mearsheimer, Alan Dershowitz and more.

Sunday, October 25th
The Color of Olives
Directed/Produced by Carolina Rivas
and Daoud Sarhandi
Mexico/Palestine, 2006, 97 min.
(Arabic with English subtitles)
Playing at Metro Cinema

From Mexican director Carolina Rivas and cinematographer Daoud Sarhandi comes this elegant and visually breathtaking new film about the Palestinian experience. The Amer family lives surrounded by the infamous West Bank Wall, where their daily lives are dominated by electrified fences, locked gates and a constant swarm of armed soldiers. This unique and intimate documentary shares their private world, allowing a glimpse of the constant struggles and the small, endearing details that sustain them. The Color of Olives is an artistic and beautifully affecting reflection on the effects of racial segregation, the meaning of borders and the absurdity of war.

"With its contemplative tone and haunting images, "The Color of Olives" may be the most peaceful documentary ever to arrive from a war zone." - The New York Times

Telling Strings
Directed by Anne-Marie Haller
USA, 2007, 60 min.
(English & Arabic with subtitles)
Playing at Metro Cinema

Elias Jubran is a music teacher and oud maker who has lived in Galilee since before it became part of Israel in 1948. Though his four children have grown up to live very different lives, they each share his love of music. Telling Strings examines the unique beauty of the oud and the enduring strength of Palestinian musical heritage. What is necessary so that a culture--suppressed by the Israeli State--may continue to develop itself?

Beyond Blue & Gray:
Portraits of Palestinian Creativity Under Occupation
Directed/Produced by Jessica Habie
and Nirah Shirazipour
Canada/USA, 2008, 46 min.
(English & Arabic with subtitles)
Playing at Metro Cinema

"Beyond Blue & Gray: Portraits of Palestinian Creativity Under Occupation" discusses the relationship between conflict and creativity through various Palestinian painters, illustrators, photographers, poets and writers. A gorgeous narrative weaves through equally-gorgeous photography, visual artworks and stunning landscapes to reflect the aesthetics of the Palestinian past and present.


Art & Apathy:
Israeli Conscience & Culture
Directed/Produced by Jessica Habie
and Nirah Shirazipour
Canada/USA, 2008, 56 min.
(English & Hebrew with subtitles)
Playing at Metro Cinema

Shot on location in Israel, the Negev and Palestine during 2005-2006, "Art & Apathy: Israeli Conscience & Culture" is a journey through the world of political art in Israel, woven together through gorgeous visual and vocal compositions of courageous underground voices and mainstream artists treading the edges of controversial political conversations. Producers Habie & Shirazipourt contend it's important that both groups of artists feel safe to express their stories truthfully--each series stands alone, holding space for the artists and their creations, allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions about the relationship between Israel and Palestine.

Palestine Blues
Directed by Nida Sinnokrot
USA/Palestine, 2008, 72 min.
(English & Arabic with subtitles)
Playing at Metro Cinema

What is left for Palestinian farmers who learn that in 24-hours, the Israeli Army will confiscate their lands for the construction of "the West Bank Barrier"? Unexpectedly filled with moments of poetry and humour, PALESTINE BLUES tells the story of a village's confusion and desperation, their daily victories and wrenching defeats. This award-winning documentary was shot over 6 months and focuses on the farming village of Jayyous, bearing witness to the destruction of many of its homes, ancient olive groves and farmland, destroyed by Israeli bulldozers and weaponry in its inexorable charge to raise the "security" wall across Palestine.

Monday, October 26th
Occupation 101
Directed by Sufyan Omeish
and Abdallah Omeish
Palestine, 2008, 90 min.
Playing in Edmonton Room
[Stanley Milner Library]
Watch Trailer

A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike any other film ever produced on the conflict -- 'Occupation 101' presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions.

The film also details life under Israeli military rule, the role of the United States in the conflict, and the major obstacles that stand in the way of a lasting and viable peace. The roots of the conflict are explained through first-hand on-the-ground experiences from leading Middle East scholars, peace activists, journalists, religious leaders and humanitarian workers whose voices have too often been suppressed in American media outlets.

The film covers a wide range of topics -- which include -- the first wave of Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880's, the 1920 tensions, the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the first Intifada of 1987, the Oslo Peace Process, Settlement expansion, the role of the United States Government, the second Intifada of 2000, the separation barrier and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as many heart wrenching testimonials from victims of this tragedy.

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land:
U.S. Media & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Directed by Bathsheba Ratzkoff
and Sut Jhally
USA, 2004, 80 min.
Playing in Edmonton Room
[Stanley Milner Library]
Watch Intro

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have reinforced false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This pivotal documentary exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites--oil, and a need to have a secure military base in the region, among others--work in combination with Israeli public relations strategies to exercise a powerful influence over how news from the region is reported. Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land carefully analyzes and explains how--through the use of language, framing and context--the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and Israeli colonization of the occupied territories appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one. The documentary also explores the ways that U.S. journalists, for reasons ranging from intimidation to a lack of thorough investigation, have become complicit in carrying out Israel's PR campaign. At its core, the documentary raises questions about the ethics and role of journalism, and the relationship between media and politics.

Interviewees include Seth Ackerman (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), Mjr. Stav Adivi (IDF Reserves), Rabbi Arik Ascherman (Rabbis for Human Rights), Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Neve Gordon (Ta'ayush: Jewish-Arab Partnership), Sam Husseini (Institute for Public Accuracy), Rabbi Michael Lerner (Tikkun), Karen Pfeifer (Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), Gila Svirsky (Co-founder, Women in Black) and many, many more.


"I cannot recommend this documentary too highly. It should be required viewing for every student, for every taxpayer who is subsidizing the Israeli military machine."
- Robert McChesney, University of Illinois
"Extraordinarily powerful and courageous."
- Bo Smith, Boston Museum of Fine Arts
"The work is brilliant... touching the heart and stimulating the mind. The script, visuals, and editing are superb--never have I been so moved by a single film."
- Jack G. Shaheen, Author, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

Mon, Oct. 26 @ 6:30pm: DINNER BREAK:

Join us for a short, casual post-film & pre-speaker dinner break with tasty Middle Eastern dishes & organic produce. ESPA would like to thank the International Palestine Awareness Committee for graciously coordinating the donation of Middle Eastern food to this event. The dinner is also 'by donation', and helps us off-set the costs of bringing in the films & special guest.


No says Canwest. No says the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). No says Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenny and Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler. No, if the topic is Israel, its state structures, policies and actions. No, that is, if you are critical of these.

Look at Canwest's SLAPP suit - a strategic lawsuit against public participation - to silence the authors and distributors of a parody of their Vancouver newspaper. Look at the CJC's efforts to intimidate the United Church of Canada delegates who were considering motions to use the non-violent methods of a boycott campaign against Israel, as they were used successfully to help end apartheid in South Africa. Look at Jason Kenny's and Irwin Cotler's efforts to make it a criminal offence to even advocate boycott, claiming this is "anti-semitic". What is the impact of these concerted campaigns for a democratic culture in Canada? And do we wish to submit or resist? Let's talk about all this.


Mordecai Briemberg was born and raised in Edmonton, eventually graduating with an honours degree in Political Science from the University of Alberta. As a recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship for Alberta, he went to Oxford (UK) and continued studies in political philosophy for two years. Transferring to the field of sociology, he continued post-graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Returning to Canada in 1966 to teach at Simon Fraser University, he later was elected chair of the Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology (PSA) Department. He has worked for trade unions, independent newspapers, done popular education and taught English as a Second Language for 25 years at Douglas College in New Westminister.

For more than two decades Briemberg has been a radio broadcaster on the three-hour weekly public and cultural affairs program "Redeye", at Vancouver Cooperative Radio. He has been an anti-war activist for the last 45 years, in the anti-nuclear movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, and currently organizes with against the Canadian government involvement in wars against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine most particularly. Since 1967 he has campaigned actively for justice for the Palestinian people, now as a member of Canada Palestine Support Network (Canpalnet) and as a director on the board of the Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation. He is editor and contributor to the book "It Was, It Was Not: Essays and Art on the War Against Iraq".

The YWCA (Vancouver) honoured Briemberg for his anti-war and Palestine support work with the "International Peacemaker of the Year" award (2008). For this same work in support of the just rights of the Palestinian people, Canwest-Global media targeted him with a SLAPP--a strategic lawsuit against public participation. Although the charges were eventually dropped, an internationally supported Seriously Free Speech Committee ( has been formed to defend the authors against this SLAPP suit, and to advocate across Canada for free expression, without censorship, harassment or criminalization, on matters related to Palestine/Israel.