Palestine-focused festival shows the good, the bad and the absurd


The fifth edition of the Eye on Palestine festival touches on serious political issues, but also finds comic absurdity in some stories

Milky defiance

A festival devoted to Palestine risks being a grim affair, but Eye on Palestine in Brussels has selected several films for its fifth edition that will raise a smile as well as serious political issues.

Take The Wanted 18, for example, which recounts how residents of a Palestinian neighbourhood became fed up with having to buy milk from an Israeli dairy and so got some cows of their own.

The first problem was that they knew nothing about keeping cows. The second was that the Israeli army saw this act of milky defiance – in 1988, at the height of the first Intifada – as a threat to state security and proceeded to hunt down the cows. This absurd story (pictured) is told with a mix of documentary, interviews and stop-motion animation, in which the cows present their side of the story.

There is also something absurd about On the Bride’s Side, in which Italian filmmakers record their project to get a group of Syrian and Palestinian refugees from Milan to Malmö disguised as a wedding party. This act of smuggling in plain sight probes the weaknesses in Fortress Europe and provides an occasion for the refugees to tell their stories.

Other documentaries explore subjects such as the contemporary identity of Bethlehem, the way national history is taught in Palestinian and Israeli schools, and the impact decades of foreign aid have had on Palestinian lives. The festival’s dramatic performances present inside and outside perspectives on Palestinian stories, and there will also be dance, slam poetry, concerts and DJ sets.

The films and performances are often accompanied by debates and discussions. And for the duration, the festival’s main location, KVS, will be “occupied” by non-profit organisation Maramiya, with workshops, a book salon, short films and tea. A lot of tea.
28 March to 5 April across Brussels