Commemorating the Palestinian Nakba, the NVIC (Nederlands-Vlaams Instituut in Cairo) is hosting Palestine month with events throughout the month of May at their location in Zamalek. The next event is a lecture by prolific author Ahdaf Soueif on 15 May with the aim of taking the audience through Soueif’s personal experiences of Palestine.
Soueif is an Egyptian novelist and political commentator who writes mainly in English. She is the author of In the Eye of the Sun (1992) and The Map of Love (1999). The latter was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. She has also written two collections of short stories and her most recent work is Cairo: My City, Our Revolution (2012), which is her account of the 2011 revolution.
Soueif lives between London and Cairo and writes on Egypt and Palestine for the Guardian. She is also the founder of the Palestine Festival of Literature.
The lecture is part of Palestine month at NVIC which commemorates the Nakba and sees other events with similar themes take place, including film screenings by Elia Suleiman, Muayad Alayan and Laila Higazi.
The Nakba (Arabic for disaster) refers to when Palestinian Arabs fled their country or were expelled during the 1947–1948 Civil War and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Previous events included a screening of the movie Though I know the River is Dry, accompanied by a talk by its director Omar Hamilton on 4 May. Hamilton is a filmmaker and a producer of the Palestinian Festival of Literature as well as a founding member of Mosireen. The film tells the story of a man’s return to Palestine after his emigration to America years before. Told through interweaving archival footage and parallel timelines, the film premiered in a competition at the Rotterdam film festival where it won the Prix UIP. It also won Best Short from the Arab World at Abu Dhabi and was nominated for Best Short Film at the European Film Awards.
On 18 May, Elia Suleiman’s black comedy The Time That Remains (2009) will be screened. Suleiman’s film is a charming portrayal of Palestinian reality that straddles 1948 and the present day. Based in part on Suleiman’s own life, the film is an intense black comedy with genuinely funny and moving moments. Suleiman excels at making an absurdist satire of the current situation that feels intimate and poignant. The film is in Arabic and Hebrew and will have English subtitles.
Another screening of Sacred Stones (2011) will follow on 25 May by Muayad Alayan and Laila Higazi. The film is about Palestine’s most in-demand natural resource: natural stone, sometimes referred to as “white petroleum”.
Sacred Stones is about how the industry surrounding this stone is used to serve Israeli construction demands, including the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied territories. The film questions the use of this highly valuable resource in creating more problems than solutions for Palestinians, including environmental, social and health issues. The film is in Arabic and English, with English subtitles, and will be the final screening of Palestine month.