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ARCHIVES OF POWER: The Palestinian Film Archive and the Erasure of History

ARCHIVES OF POWER: The Palestinian Film Archive and the Erasure of History

Screening Online on  from March 7 – 17, 2024 (Available Worldwide)

Screening in-person at Anthology Film Archives from March 8-12, 2024  (Get Tickets Here)

Image Credit: Off Frame (aka Revolution Until Victory) , Mohanad Yaqubi

Archives, often perceived as impartial guardians of history, are actually deeply entwined with political agendas. In the context of the Palestinian struggle, archives have been systematically pillaged and obliterated by the Israeli state and military, resulting in the loss of invaluable records of Palestinian history and resistance. Among the missing archives are decades of footage by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Palestine Film Unit (PFU). This collective of militant filmmakers emerged in the late 1960s, utilizing the camera as a tool of resistance to document the Palestinian experience and the struggle for liberation.

The film program features documentaries about the Palestinian film archive and filmic legacy – Azza El-Hassan’s Kings and Extras: Digging for a Palestinian Image, Mohanad Yaqubi’s Off Frame (aka Revolution Until Victory) – as well as a selection of earlier films created during the revolutionary Palestinian film era, which have recently been restored as part of El-Hassan’s invaluable initiative, The Void Project, which was founded in 2018 to explore the presence and absence of the Palestinian visual archives as a discourse in narrative formation, and to restore and distribute some of the surviving films of the era. 

ARCHIVES OF POWER ultimately strives to amplify the voices and stories that have been marginalized and suppressed, reclaiming agency and autonomy in defiance of ongoing attempts to erase Palestinian history and visual narrative. This program serves as an indispensable platform for comprehending and challenging the mechanisms of oppression within the domain of archival representation.


Off Frame (aka Revolution Until Victory) , Mohanad Yaqubi, Palestine, 2016, 62 min,

Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory is a meditation on the Palestinian people’s struggle to produce an image and self-representation on their own terms in the 1960s and 1970s, with the establishment of the Palestine Film Unit as part of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization). Unearthing films stored in archives across the world after an unprecedented research and access, the film begins with popular representations of modern Palestine and traces the works of militant filmmakers in reclaiming image and narrative through revolutionary and militant cinema. In resurrecting a forgotten memory of struggle, Off Frame reanimates what is within the frame, but also weaves a critical reflection by looking for what is outside it, or what is off-frame.

Kings and Extras: Digging for a Palestinian Image, Azza El-Hassan, Palestine 2004, 62 min. 

Azza el Hassan uses rare and 1970s and 1980s archival footage of the Palestinian national movement and a series of contemporary interviews with filmmakers, archivists and historians to explore the role of filmmaking and photography during this period. At the heart of the film is her search for answers as to the apparently mysterious ‘loss’ of the central Palestinian cinema archive in Beirut during the Israeli occupation.

Films restored as part of  THE VOID PROJECT 

Palestine in the Eye , Mustafa Abu Ali, Palestine, 1977, 28 min. 16mm /Produced by Palestinian Film Institute

Palestine in the Eye chronicles the profound impact of Hani Jawharieh’s death for the PLO Film Unit. The film reflects on his life through interviews with family, colleagues, and his own cinematography, including the moment of his death while filming for the Unit in 1976. Although the film has later been attributed to Mustafa Abu Ali, the Unit’s method of work was to describe everyone as a collective of “workers,” and we see this in the film titles, which collectively list the names of all those who participated as a non-hierarchical collective. Through this reflection on Jawharieh, we are offered an understanding of the workings of the Palestine Film Unit and its international connections. 

The Upper Gate, Arab Loutfi, Palestine, 1991, 90 min., 16 mm. / Produced by the Palestinian Liberation Organization

 “When I returned to Sidon in 1983, it had just been occupied. My sister destroyed several documents in a panic because the Zionist soldiers were coming, and I lost many of my mementoes. Friends were killed, and places I had loved were destroyed. I wanted to capture memories that could not be destroyed. The city had survived, and many people I knew were still living there and taking stock of their losses. Actually, everyone in the documentary was someone I loved, and so the film was in many ways an extended form of my memory.” -Arab Loutfi

The Road To Palestine, Layali Bader, Palestine, 1983, 7min., Animation / Produced by the Palestinian Liberation Organization

An animated short film for children. The film is based on the testimony of the girl Laila, who lives in a Palestinian refugee camp.

Jerusalem, Flower of All Cities, Ali Siam, Palestine, 1969, 8 min., 16mm. /Produced by the Jordanian Ministry of Culture

Set to the famous song by Fairouz, Flower of All Cities, a harmonious picture of Palestinian civil life in Jerusalem is disturbed by the Israeli army’s occupation of the city following the 1967 war. A rare example of the work of Hani Jawharieh, one of founding fathers of Palestinian cinema.

ARCHIVES OF POWER  is curated by Ginou Choueiri (Executive Director of ArteEast) and is part of the legacy program Unpacking the ArteArchive, which preserves and presents twenty years of film and video programming by ArteEast.

This program is co-presented by: