In this post, that first appeared in The C3RI Impact Blog, Anandi Ramamurthy discusses her work on Creative Interruptions.

At Sheffield Hallam we are leading on a strand that explores Palestinian cinema, with both local and international partners: FilmLab Palestine and Sheffield Palestine Cultural Exchange. Within this strand we aim to investigate the way cinema has been used by Palestinians to articulate the dreams, histories, memories, and struggles of the Palestinian people and with what effect.

The struggle to maintain and develop cultural expression in and for Palestine has been an inherent part of the struggle for Palestinian national liberation. ‘If imperialist domination has the vital need to practice cultural oppression,’ as Amilcar Cabral has highlighted, ‘national liberation is necessarily an act of culture’ (1970). In this strand we are focussing on cinema as a form of cultural expression. We are considering the context of both production and exhibition to consider its power and impact.

We do not aim to produce a history of Palestinian cinema but will investigate how filmmakers have struggled to use cinema to speak of Palestinian experience and how the barriers to creating such a cinema have been creatively overcome. We will consider how creative practitioners have sought support for cinematic projects and how they have negotiated institutional and financial policies and frameworks in order to speak in both Palestine and abroad.

The research aims to explore how, as ‘a stateless cinema’ (Dabashi 2003), Palestinian cinema has not just played a role in creating cultural tradition and history, but has also been forced to be outward facing – a cinematic culture that has needed to speak to and engage the international community as much as Palestinians. In Sheffield and the North of England, we are exploring the audiences and reception for Palestinian cinema. In conducting this research, we have taken a participatory approach, involving Sheffield Palestine Cultural Exchange and Cinema Palestino Manchester in the organisation of screenings and events to share and explore how Palestinian films are watched and received by diverse audiences and will consider the role of Palestine Film Festivals in providing a forum for the critical appreciation and exhibition of these films.