From April 15 through May 4, the Gene Siskel Film Center collaborates with the Chicago Palestine Film Festival to present the sixteenth annual festival representing the spirit and mood of contemporary Palestinian life. This festival is dedicated to exhibiting film and video work that is open, critical, and reflective of the culture, experience, and vision of the artists.

This year’s festival is made possible in part through the support of the Crossroads Fund and the Khaled & Noha E. Taha Foundation (KNET). For their invaluable cooperation the Gene Siskel Film Center thanks the members of the Chicago Palestine Film Festival Committee.

—Barbara Scharres, Gene Siskel Film Center


Opening night film!


2016, Maha Haj, Palestine, 90 min.
With Maisa Abd Elhadi, Ziad Bakri

Saturday, April 15, 8:00 pm
Friday, April 28, 8:00 pm



“Haj’s wry, good-hearted humor begins to feel almost radical, a revolutionary statement, reminding us that Palestinians are people as well as ‘a People.’” —John Bleasdale, CineVue

“A fast-paced, quick-witted feature…leaves us with a smile and a lot to reflect upon.” —Jasmin Valjas, The Upcoming

Gently humorous and cleverly absurd, this sneaky little comedy-drama couches an undercurrent of political commentary in its whimsical set pieces staged in Palestine, Israel, and Sweden, and in family setups that are both realistic and slow-burning funny. Elderly marrieds Nabeela and Saleh communicate only through inflicting petty annoyances on each other, while their widely scattered adult children—pregnant Samar, commitment-phobic Tarek, and Swedish immigrant Hisham–deal with the baffling contradictions of their world with ingenuity, including a lovely tango duet in an Israeli holding cell. In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.

Preceded by TODAY THEY TOOK MY SON (2016, Pierre Dawalibi, Lebanon/UAE, 7 min); a thrown stone shatters a family’s unity. In Arabic and English with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)



2016, Heidi Saman, USA, 78 min.
With Karim Saleh, Waleed Zuaiter

Sunday, April 16, 5:15 pm
Saturday, April 29, 8:00 pm



“A perceptive and involving portrait of unraveling…an unusually accomplished debut with strong contributions on both sides of the camera.” —Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

A morose twenty-something valet parking attendant for a ritzy Los Angeles eatery experiences a quarter-life crisis in this keenly observant drama of an assimilated Egyptian family’s gradual disintegration against the background of California cool. Steven (Saleh) is drifting in place, hating his demeaning job, shown up by his ambitious over-achiever sister, and uneasily coming to terms with his parents’ pending divorce, the sale of the family home, and the fading thrills of an uncommitted romance. First time director Saman, winner of the Muse Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, brings an acute sense of an unmoored culture to this late-onset coming of age.

Preceded by OCEANS OF INJUSTICE (2016, Bruno de Champris, UK/Palestine, 12 min); For decades, a gross injustice has been perpetuated against an entire people. Through consumption of news media, we think we understand what they are going through. But we have no idea. DCP digital. (BS)



2016, Maysaloun Hamoud, Israel/France, 96 min.
With Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura

Friday, April 21, 8:00 pm



“Sparkling, taboo-breaking…audiences will have to seriously update their ideas about the lifestyle of Palestinian women in Israel.” —Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

“The movie equivalent of a page-turner…tough and touching.”—Kent Turner, Film-Forward

Three disparate young Palestinian women thrown together as roommates find strength in numbers when society, family, and male partners attempt to impose their will in this sprightly millennial drama that suggests parallels with “Sex in the City” and “Girls.” Laila, lawyer by day, liberated party girl by night; Salma, counterculture DJ with a lesbian lover she hides from her Christian family; and newcomer Nour, a studious hijab-wearing Muslim with a sternly devout fiancé, clash over the cultural details but bond as sisters when the chips are down and men fall into the trap of presuming to make the rules. In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.

*This film has graphic sexual content and a depiction of sexual assault. This film is not suitable for younger viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.

Preceded by SHISHBARAK (2016, Bayan Dahdah, Quatar, 10 min); Aya has promised to cook an Arabic dish for her western boyfriend, who is coming over later that evening. She resorts to getting out her late mother’s cookbook, with whom she had a terrible relationship. Can her mother’s simple recipe help heal the wounds in Aya’s heart? In Arabic with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)



2015, Muayad Alayan, Palestine, 90 min.
With Sami Metwasi, Maya Abu Alhayyat

Saturday, April 22, 8:15 pm
Wednesday, April 26, 8:00 pm



“Channels Jean-Luc Godard into a fast-paced and delightfully comic story…pops, sizzles and charges forward.” —Stephen Mayne, Flickfeast

“Sly…absurdist humor…adds pointed digs at all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” —Jay Weissberg, Variety

The adventures of a bumbling car thief and deadbeat dad are doomed by the fateful collision of petty crime and politics in this droll, jazzy take on one man’s flawed scheme to exit the Occupied Territories. Occasional construction worker Mousa, perennial loser in life, love and larceny, steals a car, only to discover a bound and gagged Israeli soldier in the trunk. With the care and feeding of a hostage on his hands, hotly pursued by gangsters and authorities alike, and with the car such a known entity that no chop shop will touch it, Mousa seeks solace in the arms of his married illicit lover, only to encounter a new and potentially deadly pitfall.

*This film has sexual content. Viewer discretion is advised.

Preceded by PINK BULLET (2014, Ramzi Hazboun, Palestine, 11 min); Ali wakes up rattled by the construction noise coming from outside, and the disturbing dream he just had. Little did he know that his day would be as unsettling as the way it started. Both in Arabic with English subtitlesDCP digital. (BS)



2015, Hany Abu Assad, UK/Palestine/Qatar, 100 min.
With Qais Atallah, Hiba Atallah, Tawfeek Barhom

Wednesday, April 19, 8:30 pm



“This is crowd-pleasing cinema akin to Danny Boyle’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.” —Ben Nicholson, CineVue

“Thoroughly captivating…charming, rambunctious.” —Justin Chang, Variety

Four mischievous kids in a Gaza refugee camp master the ways of the streets to score musical instruments and start a ragtag wedding band. Surmounting poverty, family tragedy, and the occupation, the band’s precociously talented vocalist Mohammed Assaf (Barhom), grows up to wangle by hook and by crook, a coveted spot on TV’s Arab Idol, the first Palestinian ever to compete. The hopes of an entire people hang thrillingly on the outcome. It’s a true story, and one recreated by director Abu Assad (OMAR, PARADISE NOW) as a rousing tension-filled cliffhanger with an irresistibly jubilant finale. In Arabic with English subtitles.

Preceded by GRAFFITI (2016, Fidaa Nasr, Palestine, 16 min); An anonymous graffiti on a wall in Hebron tells of love…love in the time of death. In Arabic with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)



2016, Elia Youssef, Lebanon/Nepal/USA, 66 min.

Wednesday, May 3, 8:00 pm




Three men and a woman, all seasoned mountain climbers, attempt the toughest climb of their careers, Alaska’s Mt. Denali, in a hazardous adventure that symbolizes the dedication to achieving dreams for each of them. Director Youssef captures the tension, suspense and ever-present danger of every stage of the project beginning with rigorous training, as Sheikh Mohammed El Thani from Quatar, Raed Zidan from Palestine, Massound Kalafji from Iran, and Suzanne Al Houby, the first Palestinian woman to scale Mt. Everest, prepare to take the seven Summits challenge, with Denali the formidable final obstacle to their hoped-for triumph. In Arabic and English with English subtitles.

Preceded by NEVERTHELESS, AL QUDS (2016, Unai Aranzadi, Palestine/Spain, 30 min); Since 1967, nothing seems to stop the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem. However, nothing stops the dignity and strength of the occupied Palestinian population. In Arabic with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)



2016, Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp, USA, 84 min.

Sunday, April 23, 5:15 pm
Thursday, May 4, 8:15 pm



“Harrowing and incendiary…a vital and unmissable film.” —Dave Zirin, The Nation

“Amazing…a must-watch documentary for anyone interested in understanding the truth of the Occupation and the failures of Western journalism.” —Marc Lamont Hill, CNN

A sharply critical analysis of the public relations efforts that have consistently portrayed Israel as a victim in relation to the Palestinian struggle and the Occupation, this incisive documentary dissects a multi-faceted campaign that has waged since the 1980s, aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Americans and suppressing opposing viewpoints. Cultural critics and experts including Noam Chomsky, Amira Hass, Norman Finkelstein, M.J. Rosenberg, Yousef Munayyer, and Mark Crispin Miller explore the issues and the key players, from the pro-Israel lobby in Congress to the media coverage of Israel and Palestine by U.S. press. DCP digital. (BS)