Films about Palestine
1948: Creation and Catastrophe (2017) (1 hour, 25 minutes)
About the creation of Israel and how it catastrophically affected Palestinians. Based on the personal recollections of Palestinians and Israeli, film footage, and historians’ insights, including those of Ilan Pappé.
5 Broken Cameras (2012) (1 hour, 34 minutes)
Palestinian Emad Burnat co-directed this Oscar-nominated documentary. He was given his first camera in 2006 after the birth of a child and began to record life in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, located near an Israeli settlement on the West Bank. The film also chronicles the danger in filming in Palestine—Israelis destroyed five of his cameras.
500 Dunams on the Moon (2002) (48 minutes)
About the 1948 Israeli expulsion of the Palestinian villagers living in Ayn Hawd. It was turned into an Israeli artist colony, Ein Hod. After the expulsion, the Palestinian villagers moved to a new location 1½ kilometers away, but their village has never been recognized by Israel and they do not receive any services.
BBC Report on Israel’s Secret Weapon (nuclear arms and WMDs) (2003) (45 minutes)
First broadcast in the UK in 2003, this documentary explores the history of Israel’s development of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, from the 1960s to the present day. It features the experiences of Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. Available on YouTube. A transcript of the film is available on The Electronic Intifada.
Born in Gaza/Nacido en Gaza (2015) (1 hour, 18 mins.)
This Spanish documentary was filmed in 2014, soon after the Israeli airstrike on Gaza that killed four young Palestinian boys who were playing soccer on the beach. The film focuses on the impact of Israel’s actions on children and does so very powerfully. Available on Netflix (and on YouTube for a small rental fee).
(If you don’t subscribe to Netflix, the company often offers a free one-month subscription—just remember to cancel the subscription after the free month if you don’t want to pay for future months.)
Budrus (2009) (1 hour, 12 minutes)
In this highly acclaimed documentary, Ayed Morrar organizes to save his village, Budrus, from destruction by Israel’s apartheid barrier. He unites different Palestinian political factions, and his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, organizes the women so that, together, villagers use nonviolent resistance to protect their lives and village.
Conquer and Divide (2018)
The Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, put together this detailed interactive map of the history of the occupation of Palestine by Israel.
The Easiest Target: The Israeli Policy of Strip Searching Women and Children (2005) (13 minutes)
In this short documentary, five women (Palestinian, American, Muslim, Christian, Jewish) recount their humiliating experiences when strip-searched by Israeli border guards and airport security officials. View it on the If Americans Knew website (where there are lots of other interesting videos).
Flying Paper (2014) (1 hour, 11 minutes)
A documentary about resilient Palestinian children in Gaza who build and fly kites in an effort to break the Guinness World Record for the most kites ever flown at one time. Co-produced with a team of young filmmakers in Gaza. Find it here.
The Gatekeepers (2012) (1 hour, 15 minutes)
A documentary about the work of the Israeli internal security service, Shin Bet, as told from the perspective of six of its former heads. Includes archival coverage. Available on Amazon Prime.
How Are the Children? (1 hour, 10 minutes)
A two-part film and accompanying curriculum available through the United Church of Christ, which focuses on the atrocities that Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation experience. Watch the film and get more information here.
Imprisoning a Generation (50 minutes)
This documentary explores the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian children, including kidnapping, detaining, torturing, and abusing them; the film focuses on four children.
In the Image: Palestinian Women Capture the Occupation (2014) (1 hour)
Palestinian women who are “citizen journalists” capture life under the Israeli occupation using video cameras provided by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Get more information about the film here.
Jerusalem: The East Side Story (2007) (56 minutes)
A documentary by Mohammed Alatar about the occupation of East Jerusalem and the continuing dispossession of native Palestinians. The film is available on Vimeo.
Kings of Capitol Hill (2020) (88 mins.)
Christian evangelicals and AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) are both powerful lobbies that have huge influence on U.S. legislators and their support of Israel, as this documentary shows. PBS was scheduled to show the documentary in April 2021, but pulled it after it was challenged by far-right organizations. An article about the film can be found here. It is important to contact PBS and local stations and demand that the film be shown.
The Lab (2013) (60 minutes)
A documentary about the Israeli arms industry (Israel is the world’s third largest weapons manufacturer and exporter), how the occupation of Palestine has become a business, and how so many countries around the world are in cahoots with Israel. Find it here.
The Law in These Parts (2011) (1 hour, 41 minutes)
A powerful indictment of Israel’s military court system that deeply affects Palestinians. In Hebrew with English subtitles. Available on Amazon Prime. A January 2013 newspaper review captures the film.
Little Town of Bethlehem (2010) (1 hour, 17 minutes)
A documentary about three young men (a Christian Palestinian, a Muslim Palestinian, and a Jewish Israeli) who are all involved in non-violent resistance in Palestine and Israel. May need quite a bit of background knowledge to really appreciate the events that are addressed.
Michael Ratner’s Response to Bill de Blasio’s AIPAC speech on therealnews.com (2/2/14) (16 minutes)
In a speech to AIPAC, New York mayor Bill DeBlasio claimed a special U.S. relationship with Israel. His comments included, “As mayor of New York City, you have a friend and an ally at City Hall . . . when you need me to stand by you in Washington . . . that’s my job.” DeBlasio’s comments are included, followed by a critical response from Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Find it here.
Occupation 101 (2006) (1 hour, 30 minutes)
A powerful, historical exposition of the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, life for Palestinians under Israeli military rule, the role of the United States in the conflict, and major obstacles standing in the way of a lasting and viable peace. Find it here.
Occupation Has No Future (2010) (1 hour, 24 minutes)
A documentary about the occupation of Palestine and the militarism that underpins Israeli society, as told initially by Israeli refusniks and shministim (12th graders who refuse to serve in the IDF), then by Palestinians living under occupation. Get more information here.
Palestine Is Still the Issue (2002) (53 minutes)
A television documentary by John Pilger that is a follow-up to the 1977 film he made with the same name. Pilger interviewed Palestinians and Israelis and filmed in Gaza and the West Bank. View it online.
Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land (2004) (1 hour, 20 minutes)
About the role of U.S. media in providing biased, pro-Israel coverage of the Palestine/Israel conflict. Speakers include ordinary Palestinians as well as well-known people, such as Hanan Ashwari and Noam Chomsky. View it on YouTube here.
The People’s Patriarch: Reflections with Patriarch Michel Sabbah (2020) (1 hour, 7 mins.)
This documentary, directed by Mohammed Alatar, focuses on the first Arab to hold the office of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and his efforts to bring justice and peace to his homeland. The film can be watched here. (Note: the film itself begins around the 12:39 mark, after introductions.)
Rachel (2009) (1 hour, 40 minutes)
A documentary about activist Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer (made by Caterpillar) as she tried to prevent a Palestinian home in Gaza from being leveled.
Rick Steves’ Palestine (2015) (27 minutes)
The well-known travel writer Rick Steves went to Palestine in 2015 and this is his account of his visit. View it on YouTube here.
Roadmap to Apartheid (2012) (1 hour, 34 minutes)
This documentary, narrated by Alice Walker, addresses why Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system, and why many people around the world agree with them. The film uses footage from South Africa and Palestine/Israel. Available on Amazon Prime.
Sacred Space Denied: Bethlehem and the Wall (2005) (22 minutes)
A short documentary about how the apartheid wall imprisons residents of Bethlehem and its holy sites, profoundly affecting Palestinians, Palestinian culture, and commerce. Available in two parts on YouTube: part 1 and part 2.
Stone Cold Justice (2014) (45 minutes)
A documentary about the treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank. It focuses on three boys who were arrested (two in the middle of the night), interrogated, and forced to sign false confessions. The film showed on the mainstream Australian TV station, ABC1, in February 2014. View it online.
The Stones Cry Out (2013) (55 minutes)
A documentary about the impact of the Israeli occupation of Palestine on Christian Palestinians. It shows how Bethlehem is now encircled by the apartheid wall, which cuts it off from Jerusalem and robs Palestinians of much of their agricultural land.
Tears of Gaza (2010) (1 hour, 21 minutes)
A documentary about the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 and the impact of it on the lives of ordinary people. Often stark images underscored claims of wars crimes on the part of Israel and the culpability of the United States in this military campaign. Available on YouTube and Amazon Prime.
They Were Promised the Sea (2013) (1 hour, 14 minutes)
A myth-destroying documentary about the mass migration of Moroccan Jews to Israel after the Six-Day War in 1967; it challenges the notion that Jewish Moroccans were expelled. The film is the result of a search by the Canadian director Kathy Wazana into her family’s Moroccan roots. Available on Vimeo.
The Truth: Lost at Sea (2017) (56 mins.)
About the 2010 convoy of cargo ships taking humanitarian aid to Gaza in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The flotilla was attacked by the Israeli military while in international waters, and 10 activists died. Available here or on Prime Video.
Wall (Mur) (2004) (1 hour, 38 minutes)
A documentary made by Moroccan Israeli Simone Bitton about the building of the apartheid wall. We hear from Palestinians whose lives are deeply affected by the wall, Palestinians who are building the wall, Israeli Defense Ministry officials, and settlers.
The War Around Us (2012) (1 hour, 15 minutes)
Only two international journalists for Al Jazeera English, Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros, were on the ground in Gaza during Israel’s devastating 22-day military offensive in 2008–2009. This documentary shows the suffering of Gaza’s civilian population. Find it here.
Where Should the Birds Fly? (2013) (58 minutes)
Filmmaker Fida Qishta was born and raised in Rafah, Gaza, and works with international human rights observers in Gaza. In this film, she shares her experiences living in Gaza and those of Mona Samouni, a young girl who lost many, many family members in Cast Lead, the Israel bombardment of Gaza in 2008–2009. Available on Vimeo.
Within Eye of Storm (2012) (1 hour, 8 minutes)
A poignant and compelling documentary about two men, one Palestinian (Bassam) and one Israeli (Rami), who both lost daughters to violence and became close friends through their peace activist work. Find it here.
A World Not Ours (2014) (1 hour, 33 minutes)
A multi-generational documentary about the Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, Ain al-Helweh, which has been home to 70,000 people for over 60 years. The filmmaker, Mahdi Fleifel, grew up in the camp, now lives in Denmark, and has visited the camp many times. He and family members kept a video diary of life in the camp.
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (2011) (1 hour, 39 minutes)
About a young French immigrant to Israel who does not understand all the violence and writes a letter to Gaza, which she puts in a bottle and which her brother, an IDF soldier stationed near Gaza, throws into the sea. A young Palestinian in Gaza finds the bottle and an email correspondence ensues.
Man Without a Cell Phone (2010) (1 hour, 10 minutes)
A humorous drama by Sameh Zoabi about a farmer in a village near Nazareth who tries to organize a grassroots protest against the erection of a cell phone tower in his village . . . only to be opposed by family members who love the improved cell phone reception.
The Present (2020) (25 mins.)
This short Palestinian-British film was nominated for an Oscar and is on Netflix. It’s a very powerful movie about Israeli cruelty at checkpoints and how a young girl helps her father solve a potentially disastrous situation at a checkpoint when they are returning home from a shopping expedition.
When I Saw You (2012) (1 hour, 33 minutes)
Set in Jordan in 1967, close to the border with occupied Palestine. About an 11-year-old, Tarek, who is living with his mother in a refugee camp and was separated from his father during the Six-Day War. He sets off on a journey to find his father.
The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour (2008) (1 hour, 4 minutes)
A film showing four very funny comedians of Middle Eastern descent who challenge stereotypes with incisive and refreshing humor. Two of the comedians, Aron Kader and Dean Obeidallah, are Palestinian Americans.
Sean Taylor—Palestine (2019) (6 minutes)
Sean Taylor is a musician and songwriter, and this short poetic and visual song/recitation captures the history and reality of Palestine. Find it here.