Palestinian Film



Course Number



Prereqs: FAIR 203a or Instructor Permission

Keywords: Palestine, Nationalism, Film Studies, Neo-Formalism, Video essays

As I revise this description, Israeli shelling has killed at least 212 people in Gaza this week, including 61 children. The United States is finally asking for a ceasefire having previously vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution demanding one. In this course, we will learn to make video essays to analyze Palestinian movies. We'll try to step away from the conventional historical political analysis of the conflict and look at it sideways and culturally through the narrative responses, interventions, and explorations of Palestinian filmmakers. Despite living under Israeli military control for 54 years, Palestinians have created vibrant movies in the past 25 years. This post-colonial or decolonial second cinema descends from the revolutionary solidarity documentaries from the 1960s and 1970s. We examine the works of the four of the most successful Palestinian narrative cinema directors - Hany Abu-Assad, Annmarie Jacir, Rashid Masharawi, and Elia Suleiman - and the ways in which they use space and comedy to tell contemporary Palestinian stories. Class time is structured to screen one or two feature movies each week, and to hold longer video editing and essaying workshops. We will work with Fairhaven's media manager Mark Miller to train ourselves to make video essays.

We will practice a variety of formal video editing and essaying exercises on the movies we watch: 1) a videographic pechakucha; 2) an unscripted voiceover; 3) an alternative trailer; 4) a multiscreen composition; and 5) a videographic epigraph. After we collectively experiment videographically on a set of five films, students will be encouraged to create their own video essays as final term projects.

Texts: For purchase at the AS Bookstore & available through Western Library: >Rashid Khalidi, The Hundred Years War on Palestine (New York: Metropolitan, 2020). Available online: >Christian Keathley, Jason Mittell, and Catherine Grant, The Videographic Essay: Practice and Pedagogy, 2019, >Thomas van den Berg & Miklós Kiss, Film Studies in Motion: From Audiovisual Essay to Academic Research Video, 2016, Selected chapters and essays by Nadia Yaqub, Hamid Dabashi, Terri Ginsburg, Nurith Gertz and George Khleifi, Kamal Abdel-Malek and other authors are available online through Western Library as Ebook Chapters or through article databases. Links will be posted on canvas.

Credit/Evaluation: Faithful preparation and attendance, and informed, regular participation. Attempt five formal video editing exercises. A video essay on a Palestinian film or filmmaker of your choice with a written artistic and academic statement.


Fall 2021
Course Instructor