Washington Report, January/February 2006, pages 70-71
Pittsburgh Film Festival a Huge Success
For the first time, a Palestinian film series was held in Pittsburgh, PA. Between Oct. 21 and Dec. 2, films were shown in several city churches—including Baptist, Methodist and Catholic—and at Quaker Friends meeting houses. The films also were screened on college campuses and at Carnegie Mellon University. The series was made possible by a grant from Three Rivers Community Foundation.
The films were introduced and discussed by their film directors and producers, as well as by Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank, Israelis, and peace activists. The films included documentaries, short films and Palestinian narratives. The series opened with ”I Am Palestine,“ a film that explores what it means to be a Palestinian. Director Suha Araj was present for the screening and a question-and-answer session. The series concluded with, “Rachel Corrie: An American Conscience,” and was viewed by more than 150 people. Rachel’s parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, led the ensuing discussion.
The series created a huge buzz, with several articles in the Pittsburgh press. While they were in town, the Corries were interviewed by two local radio stations, and also attended a community meeting with local religious groups.
Elaine Linn, one of the organizers of the film series, told the Washington Report that organizers were overwhelmed by the positive response from the Pittsburgh community, and that it had been a very touching experience, “I have been unable to shake the vision of a 72-year-old Palestinian man whom I saw wiping his tears after every screening of all 10 films,” she said.
According to Linn, the moderated discussions following these films also were very productive. Several young Jewish groups came to the films, she said, and “were so interested in the issue of peace, they wanted to know more. They asked questions and were genuinely curious.”
Organizers hope that the interest sparked by the film series will translate to active involvement in the upcoming Sabeel conference to be held in Pittsburgh in February. Currently several local churches and the Pittsburgh Palestinian Solidarity Group are busy raising funds for this huge event.
“The film festival and the coverage we received has generated the interest and the thirst for more information,” said Linn. “The Sabeel conference will answer those needs.”
—Mai Abdul Rahman