Palestinian Film Festival Australia: our top picks of the ten-day film fest

Now in its 12th year, The Palestinian Film Festival Australia returns to screens across the country this March.

The Palestinian Film Festival Australia marks its 12th edition this year, returning to screens across the country for ten days this month.

The festival showcases a diverse selection of Palestinian films from around the world, including documentaries, features, and animated shorts, while working to strengthen Palestinian cultural output and fostering social and economic ties between Palestine and Australia.

‘There’s never been a more important time to learn the stories of Palestine,’ said Festival Director Naser Shakhtour. ‘The last few months in Gaza and in the West Bank have been, and continue to be, beyond devastating. People everywhere are asking brave questions and actively seeking independent and alternative perspectives. Our twelfth Festival program pays tribute to the continued resistance and resilience of the Palestinian people.’

‘With award-winning films set inside historic Palestine as well as abroad in Palestinian diaspora communities, we have painstakingly and proudly picked a program that reflects the stories and experiences of Palestinian communities while simultaneously responding to the interests and feedback of our ever-growing festival audience,’ Shakhtour said.

Opening the festival this year is the coming-of-age, socio-political drama Alam (Flag) directed by Firas Khoury. Alam is the story of Tamer, a Palestinian teen who undergoes a political awakening, sparked by an attractive outspoken new girl at his school.

Here are our top picks of this year’s festival.

A Gaza Weekend

Synopsis: Israel is sealed off after the outbreak of a deadly virus and Gaza has become the safest place in the region, leaving a British journalist and his Israeli girlfriend trapped on the wrong side of the border. With no one else to turn to, they must entrust two Palestinian street merchants who promise a way out in exchange for much needed cash. What follows is a culture clash comedy-adventure as the couple desperately try everything to get back home.

Classification: Unclassified 15+

Runtime: 1h 30m

Director: Basil Khalil

Bethlehem 2001

Synopsis: While reflecting on the present, a young Palestinian recalls his childhood memories of the military invasion and siege of Bethlehem in 2001 during the second Palestinian uprising (Intifada). By trying to understand how his parents led him through those difficult times, he hopes to find the strength and support he needs to cope with the present. Bethlehem 2001 is a personal cinematic exploration to understand childhood trauma and the effects it can have on later life.

Classification: Unclassified 15+

Runtime: 14m

Director: Ibrahim Handal

Note: All short films in the Palestinian Film Festival screen alongside a full-length feature film. To see the short film Bethlehem 2001, you’ll need to book into feature film Lyd in Sydney or Melbourne.


Synopsis: In 1948, Lyd became an Israeli city, leading to hundreds of deaths and the exile of most of its 50,000 residents. Today, the city has a Jewish Israeli majority and a Palestinian minority and is divided by racism and violence. The film asks the question: what would the city be like had the Israeli occupation of Lyd never happened?

Documentary portions follow characters through their daily lives, portraying the Palestinian experience of this city, while vivid animations envision an alternate reality where the same characters are free from trauma and violence.

Classification: Unclassified 15+

Runtime: 1h 18m

Director: Rami Younis and Sarah Ema Friedland

A House in Jerusalem

Synopsis: Young Rebecca is forced to move with her father from the UK to Jerusalem in the hopes that a new beginning can help her heal from her mother’s sudden death. Soon after settling into an old house in a neighbourhood known as the Valley of the Ghosts, a series of mysterious events occur that Rebecca takes the blame for. Diving deep into the mystery of the house and the city of Jerusalem, Rebecca sets out on a journey to discover what hides in the shadows of the house.

Classification: Unclassified 15+

Runtime: 1h 44m

Director: Muayad Alayan

Read: Australian Film Festivals Guide 2024


Synopsis: Wandering through the ‘worst Zoo in the world’, a young boy Sami is looking for his football. The child discovers more than his missing ball when he encounters the little tiger Laziz, who follows him on his quest to find a safe place to play. Against all odds, they become friends. However, the remnants of war harbour danger.

This short animation is inspired by Gaza’s Zoo where the animals that died due to the war were embalmed and exhibited. The remaining living animals, including a tiger called Laziz, were rescued to safe reserves.

Classification: Unclassified 15+

Runtime: 8m

Director: Tariq Rimawi

Note: All short films in the Palestinian Film Festival show alongside a full-length feature film. To see the short film Zoo, you’ll need to book into feature film Alam.


Synopsis: Despite being part of a young generation of Palestinians whose families chose to stay and challenge the Israeli state after Al-Nakba, 17-year-old Tamer and his friends are just like any other group of teenage boys. They clumsily search for drugs, flirt with girls, play video games, and slack off at school. However, when a new student named Maysaa joins their class, Tamer immediately falls for her and is drawn into her political activism.

Together, they join fellow classmates in an operation to covertly raise the Palestinian flag at their school and peacefully disrupt the local celebrations planned for Israel’s Independence Day.

Classification: Unclassified 15+

Runtime: 1h 40m

Director: Firas Khoury

The Palestinian Film Festival is on from 7-17 March 2024. Each city’s dates are as follows:

  • Sydney, Thursday 7 March–Sunday 10 March
  • Canberra, Friday 8 March–Sunday 10 March 
  • Brisbane, Friday 8 March–Sunday 10 March
  • Adelaide, Friday 8 March–Sunday 10 March
  • Hobart, Friday 8 March–Sunday 10 March
  • Melbourne, Thursday 14 March–Sunday 17 March
  • Perth,  Friday 15 March–Sunday 17 March

For more information and to book tickets, visit

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports