If you hear ‘Palestine’, what images come to mind? Maybe it’s something from the Holy Land, flat roofed houses, olive trees, sheep on rugged mountains – or maybe it’s soldiers, young people throwing stones, check points. Whatever it is, the chances are that it will be a stereotype.
Images are really strong. The saying ‘a picture says a thousand words’ refers to the power of pictures. Yet somehow those stereotypes seem to stay.
‘Pictures from Palestine’ is a project that seeks to give us some new fresh voices and images. Based in Bethlehem the project is a partnership between CHwB Sweden and the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation (CCHP). A small group of women aged between 11 and 65 are making short films about their Palestine. The films are being made using simple phones and technology meaning that interpretation skills are being enhanced and stories of contemporary heritage and daily life will allow us to meet a real Palestine – not an imagined one.
One participant, Beya, says ‘Approaching the notion of heritage — and more specifically Palestinian heritage — in the light of our own personal backgrounds and experience has been a very challenging exercise to me. It helped me reconsider the scope of its meanings. It made me realize how important it is for the youth to grasp and understand heritage as it is, personal, political and communal.’
Another, participant, Irene who is originally from France, says that ‘through this short film we want to show the richness of food culture in Palestine and its cuisine by capturing its noise, its smell, and its movements.’
For all the participants the skills of making short films are really fun and interesting, and a shared activity. ‘We first learned how to take photos, then write a screenplay, and finally how to edit. Each training day was a pleasure for us, to get together, to share ideas while learning.’
Bethlehem has been affected by Covid 19 and the project has been extended to ensure everyone involved is safe. We are grateful to our funders, the Swedish Institute for their cooperation in this challenging time. But .. we plan to finish soon. So watch this space for some wonderful Pictures from Palestine!