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Alice Kanterian

Alice is a correspondent, covering Venice and other international film festivals.


El Gouna Film Festival-GFF and Iran International Documentaries Film Festival CINEMA VÉRITÉ- Spotlight on Palestine and Gaza



While the El Gouna Film Festival-GFF unveils its program "Window on Palestine" showcasing a powerful collection of films that delve into the heart of Palestinian narratives, the Iran International Documenaries Film Festival CINEMA VÉRITÉ takes it a step further and puts Gaza in the Spotlight of it's 17th edition.


While GFF 14-21.12 will be finishing in 3 days, CINEMA VÉRITÉ just started. 


What is the meaning of CINEMA VÉRITÉ? The origins!


Cinema Verite is a French film movement, which took place back in the 1960s. This film movement forced the movie industry to pay more attention to incorporating natural actions and authentic dialogue into the movies, which showed people in day to day lives. Basically, the movement was about observing and capturing life as it was or finding truth in the moving images.


Before this movement, filmmakers recorded footage, interviews, and actual conversations separately. The camera was usually handheld. Then they would review the footage and cut them altogether. However, this technique did not have the ability to give life to realistic-looking movies.


Many different factors influenced the production of documentary movies in the 20th century. Post World War II, the neorealist movement, and the British independent documentaries hold a prominent place out of them. In fact, all these reasons contributed significantly to the rise of Cinema Verite during the 1960s.


The programm!


A total of 2,454 documentaries from around the world were submitted to the festival. Among these submissions were 615 films from Iran, while 1,839 are foreign documentaries from Turkey, China, the UK., Russia, Poland, Spain, Egypt, Argentina, Indonesia, and Germany, among others.. 


Many cities-brighter audience!


The festival will not only take place in Tehran but will showcase it's programm in other majour Iranian cities like Shiraz in order to offer the young filmmakers a brighter audience. In addition to the festival's main venue, Tehran's Charsu Cineplex, the films will also be screened at the Film Museum of Iran. The winning films will be then screened in other majour Iranian cities. 




A  special section dedicated to Gaza will showcase a curated selection of documentaries focused on Gaza, shedding light on the ongoing issues in Palestine.There will also be a panel discussion involving international professors and filmmakers who will delve into the humanitarian consequences of the crisis, documentary filmmaking techniques, and more.


The primary goal of the Gaza section is to bring attention to both renowned documentaries previously screened at the festival, as well as new productions in this field. 


Main topics!


This year, the festival will focus on two significant national and international challenges: the water crisis and population issues. In addition to the festival's main venue, Tehran's Charsu Cineplex, the films will also be screened at the Film Museum of Iran. The winning films will be then screened in other majour Iranian cities like Shiraz. 


The 17th edition of the festival takes place in Tehran from December 18- 23.12 2023


While CINEMA VÉRITÉ is about to kick off,  the GFF has reached the halftime. The "Window on Palestine" has showcased a powerful collection of films that delve into the heart of Palestinian narratives. The carefully curated selection sheds light on the challenges faced by resilient people, inviting audiences to gain a deeper understanding of the human experiences within Palestine.


The title Window on Palestine perfectly encapsulates the essence of this cinematic journey, inviting audiences to peer into the unseen lives and untold stories. Through this program, most of which was curated in collaboration with the Palestine Film Institute, El Gouna Film Festival aims to amplify the unfiltered narratives that deserve to be heard, offering a platform for voices that have long been overlooked. This special section underscores the festival's commitment to supporting the just cause of the Palestinian people.


The films featured in the program span a range of compelling stories. Ambulance directed by Mohamed Jabaly, delivers a raw, first-person account of the last war in Gaza in 2014, uncovering the stories behind the recurring violence. In Bye Bye Tiberias, filmmaker Lina Soualem captures the personal journeys of four generations of daring Palestinian women, each influencing the world despite their dispersed identity.


Arab & Tarzan Nasser’s Condom Lead takes a comedic approach to the Gaza War, showcasing the challenges faced by a married Palestinian couple attempting intimacy amidst disruptive Israeli shelling. The very moving animated short by May Odeh Drawing for Better Dreams brings to life the struggles of Palestinian children in the Occupied Territories and how they cope with life with their crayon drawings, highlighting the power of allowing young people to hope and dream.


Yousry Nasrallah's epic adaptation, Bab el shams, narrates the story of the people of Palestine, spanning fifty years of history, suffering, hope, and love. Anne Paq & Dror Dayan’s Not Just Your Picture follows the devastating journey of German-Palestinian siblings seeking justice for their family after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza.


Sina Salimi’s  Roof Knocking provides insight into the paradoxical reality in Gaza, prompting viewers to contemplate preservation amidst constant threats. 

In Shujayya, directed by Mohammed Almughanni, a typical family in Gaza is thrown into disarray after bombing attacks destroy their home.


Farah Nabulsi’s The Teacher delves into the daily frustrations and the rage experienced by Palestinians and illustrates the impact of living in a setting where individuals with firearms dictate what you can or cannot do, how you may or may not live your life… To My Father directed by Abdelsalam Shehadeh explores Palestinian and Arab history, reflecting on the transformative power of photography. 

In a statement, Festival Director Intishal Al Timimi emphasized the significance of Window on Palestine: "Through these compelling films, we aim to open a window into the rich and complex tapestry of Palestinian life. It is our hope that these stories will resonate with audiences, fostering empathy and understanding. By providing a platform for these voices, we contribute to a broader conversation about the shared human experiences that connect us all."


In a discussion accompanying our film program, ‘Camera in Crisis: A Lens on Palestine’  will explore the intricate landscape of filmmaking in Palestine. The session will feature esteemed filmmakers Rashid Mashharawi, Najwa Najjar,  Khalil Al Mozian and Gaza-born actor Ahmed Al Munirawi, who will share their firsthand experiences, shedding light on the unique challenges faced during the filming process, especially in crisis situations prevalent in Palestine, particularly in Gaza. The discussion will be moderated by Mohammed Almughanni, offering an insightful journey into the resilience and determination of filmmakers navigating adversity to bring powerful narratives to the screen.


Speaking about the film screenings and the proposed discussion, Marianne Khoury, Artistic Director GFF said "The inclusion of the 'Window on Palestine' program in this special edition of GFF  serves as a potent demonstration of our festival's commitment to amplify the voices of Palestinians through the lens  of cinema. This programme offers to its audiences a unique opportunity to unearth or revisit the nuanced Palestinian narratives portrayed on the screen and engage in meaningful discussions, with filmmakers who will be able to make it to El Gouna”.


About El Gouna Film Festival -


El Gouna Film Festival, founded in 2017, is one of the leading festivals in the MENA region. GFF aims to showcase a wide variety of films for a passionate and knowledgeable audience, while fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking. Its goal is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange. The festival is committed to the discovery of new voices and strives to be a catalyst for the development of cinema in the Arab world, especially through CineGouna Platform, an industry-oriented event created to empower Egyptian and Arab filmmakers and help them find artistic and financial support. CineGouna Platform presents the CineGouna Bridge program that provides opportunities for sharing and learning and the CineGouna SpringBoard, a project development and co-production lab.  New this year is the CineGouna Market, including the Short Film Lounge, a place creating a link between emerging and established filmmakers.

To be continued!

Alice Kanterian






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