Netflix launches film collection of 32 ‘Palestinian Stories’

Palestinians praise move as helping local cinema escape Israeli shadow; library will include several award-winning movies and documentaries

A scene from 'Ave Maria' by Basil Khalil. (Incognito Films)
A scene from 'Ave Maria' by Basil Khalil. (Incognito Films)

Netflix has launched a collection of films and documentaries meant to highlight Palestinian life and culture, the streaming giant announced Thursday.

“Palestinian Stories,” includes 32 works that are either directed by Palestinians or captures the Palestinian experience.

“The diversification of our content sits close to my heart as Netflix works to become the home of Arabic cinema, a place where anyone in the world can access great Arab stories,” said Nuha El Tayeb, Netflix’s director of content acquisitions for Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

“While these stories are distinctly and authentically Arab, the themes are quintessentially human, and will resonate with audiences across the world. That is the true beauty of storytelling.”

Among the titles offered are Basil Khalil’s 2015 Oscar-nominated live-action short film “Ave Maria,” Annemarie Jacir’s ‘Salt of this Sea” and Elia Suleiman’s “Divine Intervention,” which won the Jury Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

The Netflix announcement came 10 days after Israel selected the film “Let there be morning” from director Eran Kolirin to represent it at the Oscars. The Palestinian cast of the film, which tells the story of a Palestinian accountant who is blocked by an Israeli checkpoint from being able to reach his West Bank home, had earlier boycotted the Cannes film festival for including the movie as an Israeli one, highlighting issues faced by Palestinians in the film industry.

Director Ameen Nayfeh, whose short film “The Crossing” is included in the collection, welcomed Netflix’s move and said it was important for Palestinians to be able to differentiate their story from Israeli films.

“Now when you type Palestine in the search button on Netflix, you will see so many different titles that you can watch. Before, when I would type Palestine I would get Israeli titles,” he told Reuters.

Netflix said the collection would be available to all its subscribers.

“This is why we make films, because we want our stories to travel, we want people to know about us,” Nayfeh said.

Other films offered include The Present, Eyes of a Thief, Born In Gaza, A Drowning Man, Frontiers of Dreams and Fears, A Man Returned, When I Saw You, Children of Shatila, Paradise Now, Chronicle of a Disappearance, Maradona’s Legs, 3000 Nights, In Vitro, Bonbone, Three Logical Exists and Ghost Hunting

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