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Palestine festival's date with history

Focus is expulsion of 60 years ago

''Slingshot Hip Hop'' (above) will screen opening night at the Boston Palestine Film Festival. ''The Women of Brukman'' (below) is part of the Boston Latino International Film Festival. ''Slingshot Hip Hop'' (above) will screen opening night at the Boston Palestine Film Festival. ''The Women of Brukman'' (below) is part of the Boston Latino International Film Festival.
By Leslie Brokaw
Globe Correspondent / September 28, 2008
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It's rare to see a film festival as well-organized as the Boston Palestine Film Festival so early in its tenure. Only in its second year, the festival opens on Friday with a reception at Harvard University.

But this film festival has co-presentation partnerships with the Museum of Fine Arts and the Harvard Film Archive, screenings at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Northeastern University, Harvard University, and Boston College, and a terrific, detail-filled website at bostonpalestinefilmfest.org. There, visitors are greeted with a video about the festival overall and easy access to photos, synopses, and screening information about the nearly 60 features and shorts.

This year's focus is on the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, which the festival describes as "the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948." The expulsion occurred during the establishment of the state of Israel.

That theme pervades: The 7:30 p.m. opening reception at Harvard's CGIS Knafel Building coincides with the launch of a photography and visual arts exhibit called "the Expressions of Nakba." A centerpiece of the festival is director Yousry Nasrallah's two-part "Bab Al-Shams: The Departure," adapted from Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury's work of the same name. It pulls together several life stories to tell the decades-long saga of Palestinian exile. Part one is being presented next Sunday at 4 p.m. at the MFA, with part two following at 7 p.m.

Still, films touch on a wide variety of topics. "Maria's Grotto" is about the practice of "honor killings" of women who are accused of bringing shame to their families. Director Buthina Canaan Khoury, who received her bachelor's degree in filmmaking and photography from the Massachusetts College of Fine Arts, will be in attendance. It's on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the MFA, and is co-presented with Women in Film and Video/New England.

There are love stories, too. "The Olive Harvest" is about a brother who falls for a childhood friend who is engaged to his younger sibling. The movie won the Special Jury Prize at the Cairo International Film Festival, and plays next Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the Coolidge Corner Theatre.

The opening night film, "Slingshot Hip Hop," is about Palestinian rappers. At a screening at the Sundance Film Festival last January, director Jackie Salloum noted during a Q&A that "Kids used to grow up looking up to drug dealers with their money and fancy cars. Now they look up to [the artists]. They walk up to them on the streets and rap and sing with them. Just to see the kids with this new form of music has brought a lot of hope to the kids in the streets." Salloum and one of the featured rappers will be at the MFA for the 7:30 p.m. show on Saturday.

Presenting works of this breadth has earned the festival national attention. Earlier this year, it received the Dedication to Activism Through Arts award from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group.

The festival runs through Oct. 12. Full details can be found on the website or by calling 617-642-9640.

LATINO FEST: The Boston Latino International Film Festival opens Friday and runs through Oct. 12. Co-directors Carlotis Ruiz Ruiz and Mariem Perez Riera will attend the opening night with their film "Maldeamores (Lovesickness)," which stars Luis Guzman. Press materials say it's about "love of all kinds and at all ages in the backyards of Puerto Rico." The opening reception is at Harvard University's Carpenter Center in the Sert Gallery at 5:30 p.m., with the film following at 7 p.m. downstairs at the Harvard Film Archive.

Sixty films from 17 countries will be presented, with screenings at the HFA, Boston University, Villa Victoria in the South End, and Northeastern University.

Included in the lineup is "The Women of Brukman (La lucha de Brukman)," about the female factory workers in Argentina who took over a garment company after the country's economy fell apart in 2001 and the owners abandoned the operation. A trailer of the film can be viewed online at thewomenofbrukman.ca. It plays on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the HFA.

Information is at www.bliff.org and 617-418-3870.

SCREENINGS OF NOTE: Writer/director Lance Hammer will be at the HFA on Monday at 7 p.m. with his acclaimed "Ballast," which picked up not only the Grand Jury prize at this year's Independent Film Festival of Boston but the cinematography and directing prizes at the Sundance Film Festival and a nomination at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival as well. (617-495-4700; hcl.harvard.edu/hfa).

"The Universe of Keith Haring," a celebration of the pop artist by Danish filmmaker Christina Clausen, is at the MFA for eight shows in October, including Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. and Friday at 4:30 p.m. (617-267-9300 and www.mfa.org/film).

Gita Pullapilly and Aron Gaudet, who for the past year have been WGBH Filmmakers in Residence working on a film about elderly residents of Maine who greet US troops on their way to or from war, will present a rough cut of "The Way We Get By" on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. A panel discussion featuring both filmmakers, New England Institute of Art faculty member Tim Jackson, and Anna Callahan of Superindiefilms.com will follow (617-734-2500 and www.coolidge.org).

Joanna Lipper, a fellow with the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard this year, will present her "Little Fugitive" on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Brattle Theatre. The movie, a remake of a 1953 film of the same name, is about the struggles of two young boys whose father (Peter Dinklage) is incarcerated. The earlier movie will screen at 3:45 p.m. A trailer for Lipper's film is online at www.littlefugitive.com (617-876-6837 and www.brattlefilm.org).

Leslie Brokaw can be reached at lbrokaw@globe.com.

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