Letter from Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists, Producers, Cultural Institutions, and other cultural workers

From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)

Palestinian Artists and Intellectuals | Email Circular | 2 January 2006

Europeaid Office de Cooopération A
Rue de la Loi, 200
B-1049 Bruxelles
Dear Ms. Catherine Colomb-Nancy
We, the undersigned, a group of Palestinian filmmakers and cultural workers, are writing to you to kindly request your attention to a matter of some importance.
We have just learned of your Short List for the Euromed Audiovisual II, for the development of documentary film. Among the short-listed recipients are the Ramallah Film Institute (Palestine) & The New Foundation for Cinema and Television (Israel) (proposal Nr. 15).
We realize how important this funding can be for the development of documentary film practices in the region and especially in Palestine. However, in order for Palestinian filmmakers to benefit from such an opportunity to develop their film careers, we believe this funding must be channeled in an acceptable framework, that is transparent, trusted, and rooted in the community.
We have two major concerns about this proposal. First, we would hope that the Euromed funding would be directed to a reputable and trustworthy Palestinian institution. This is not how most who work in the Palestinian film and arts community feel towards what is termed the Ramallah Film Institute, a project administered by Mr. Adam Zuabi. Second, we have great many reservations regarding the partnership of the aforementioned institute with the New Foundation in Israel, a government-funded organization.
On the latter issue, we would like to note that partnering or collaborating with Israeli government sponsored institutions is a very sensitive issue here in Palestine – due to such a partnership assuming an equal relationship between two such partners when in fact one is supported by a government that occupies the other. A great many promising projects have failed to achieve their goals because they failed to take into consideration the complexities involved and thus alienated the majority of the communities targeted. We wish not to see the Euromed project end as a failure. On the contrary, we believe that such an opportunity for funding can play a major rule in nurturing documentary film practices in Palestine – but money alone cannot achieve this. In order for this to happen we need the community of filmmakers to believe in the project and to trust in it enough to participate in it.
The main issue at hand is that we Palestinian filmmakers, many of us based in Ramallah, have never even heard of the Ramallah Film Institute. We do not know who they are, what their purpose is, and seriously question the legitimacy of such an institution as it seems not to be registered in Palestine, either as a school, an organization, or a company.
We also have many reservations stemming from previous activities carried out by Mr. Zuabi in the name of Palestinian cinema and Palestinian filmmakers. In particular, his work as the director of the Ramallah Film Festival has significantly alienated the local community and many cultural organizations in Palestine. One example is that after requesting of him to provide financial reports following last year’s Ramallah Film Festival, his entire board of directors resigned as they were never provided with this important data involving the project. Therefore, we would like to raise these concerns and to signal the reservations of a great many established cultural figures here towards any project involving Mr. Zuabi, before the Euromed fund decisions are finalized.
We are writing to you kindly asking that you take these concerns into account before you arrive at a decision. We would be grateful for the opportunity to meet with you or any other official in charge of this project in the organization. We believe such a meeting or exchange of views and concerns can greatly assist in ensuring that the Euromed project will succeed in achieving its goals.
Sincerely yours,
Sobhi al-Zobaidi ( on behalf of the undersigned )
1. Sobhi al-Zobaidi, Filmmaker & Academic. Ramallah, Palestine 2. Annemarie Jacir, Filmmaker & Curator, Ramallah, Palestine 3. Najwa Najjar, Filmmaker, Ramallah, Palestine 4. Elia Sulieman, Filmmaker, Paris/Nazareth, Palestine 5. Hany Abu Assad, Director, Netherlands/Nazareth 6. Rashid Masharawi, Palestinian Filmmaker 7. Mai Masri, Filmmaker, Lebanon 9. Raed Al-Helou, Filmmaker, Ramallah 10. Ismail Habbash, Filmmaker, Ramallah 11. Rowan Faqih, Filmmaker, Ramallah 12. Ahmad Habash, Director/Animator, Ramallah 13. Nizar Hasan, Filmmaker, Nazareth 14. Raed Andoni, Producer, Ramallah 15. Hanna Elias, Director, Los Angeles /Ramallah 16. Dr. Alia Arasoughly, Filmmaker, Sociologist of Culture (Cinema) 17. Hanna Atallah,Filmmaker, Ramallah,Palestine 18. Abdul Salam Shehadeh, Filmmaker, Gaza 19. Emily Jacir, Artist, Rome/Ramallah 20. Dima Abu Ghoush, Filmmaker, Ramallah 21. Fatin Farhat, Director, Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah 22. Adania Shibli, Writer, London/Jerusalem 23. Shadi Zmorrod, Theater actor and Director, Palestine 24. Liana Badr, Minstry of Culture, Palestine 25. Hicham Kayed, Filmmaker, Lebanon 26. Khaled Katamish, Director, El-Funon Dance Troupe 27. Noora Baker, Activity Coordinator, Popular Art Center, Palestine 28. Mohammed Atta, Director, Wishah Dance Troupe, Palestine 29. Iman Hammouri, Director, Popular Art Center, Palestine 30. Tareq Abu-Lughod, Filmmaker, Amman 31. Issa Freij, D.P., Filmmaker, Jerusalem 32. Azza Al Hassan, Filmmaker, Amman, Jordan 33. Nahed Awwad, Filmmaker, Ramallah 34. Saed Andoni, Producer/Director, Ramallah 35. Ghada Terawi, Filmmaker, Palestine 36. Rawan Sharaf, Production Designer, Jerusalem, Palestine 37. George Khleifi, Producer, Ramallah