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New film group to fund alternative narratives that change US understanding of ME

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'Men in Flames,' a historical image featured at Fajr Falestine's site

‘Men in Flames,’ a historical image featured at Fajr Falestine’s site

A group of filmmakers has launched an initiative to make more movies about Palestine and change the American narrative. It’s called the Fajr Falestine fund, and seeks to raise funds for experimental narratives about the Middle East, five new films every two years.

We are a group of artists who want to create experimental, absurdist and alternative narratives about the realities of life in the Middle East. We seek to find new ways to fund and share stories from the Arab world.

Our film collective of artists produces thought provoking, experimental cinema in the Middle East while developing a new model of funding and distributing films.

This independent collective, composed of five selected film projects work as a small studio, comes together to support, promote and produce projects that are genre defiant and artistically groundbreaking.We believe in the revolutionary power of cinema and storytelling to change the face of reality, to free of us from the way things currently are and to carry visions for new realities and ways of being and interacting with the world, a pathway to new visions and solutions.

The group is co-led by Jessica Habie, director of Mars at Sunrise, a haunting art film about a Palestinian prisoner that will open at the Quad in NY next month.

Here’s the press release for Fajr Falestine Film Fund that went out yesterday:

Filmmakers Jessica Habie and Deema Dabis Launch the

Fajr Falestine Film Fund

Fajr Falestine Film Fund Will Produce and Finance

Groundbreaking Cinema from the Middle East

New York, NY – January 16, 2014 – Filmmakers Jessica Habie and Deema Dabis today announced the creation of the Fajr Falestine Film Fund, a new film fund which will support the production of groundbreaking, experimental films from the Middle East, with a particular emphasis on Palestinian films. The fund will be managed and overseen by the Eyes Infinite Foundation, a U.S. based non-profit organization dedicated to documenting the relationship between art and social change.

The Fajr Falestine Film Fund aims to create an independent film collective in which five selected filmmakers will receive financial support to produce thought-provoking, experimental films focused on political, social and cultural issues in the Middle East. The collective’s five inaugural filmmakers will be selected by the Fajr Falestine Film Fund’s “Pillars”, an international panel of judges comprised of prominent artists and scholars which include: filmmaker Cherien Dabis (Amreeka), writer and actress Najla Said, cinema scholar Robert Keser, Arab Film Festival Programmer Laurence Mazouni, Director/Producer Natalie Handalm, Palestinian Artist Sharif Waked and actress/director/producer Iman Aoun. For complete bios on the Fajr Falestine Film Fund “Pillars”, please visit:

“We created the Fajr Falestine Film Fund in order to provide a new distribution avenue to a vibrant community of filmmakers and artists creating experimental films exploring contemporary issues in the Arab world,” commented Fajr Falestine Film Fund founder Jessica Habie. “We strongly believe in the power of cinema to incite social change and are thrilled to offer like-minded filmmakers an opportunity to receive funding, guidance and distribution for their films.”

The Fajr Falestine Film Fund’s first feature film, MARS AT SUNRISE directed by fund founder Jessica Habie, will have a limited theatrical release on February 7, 2014, with extensive digital distribution to follow. As part of this, the filmmakers will employ a pay-it-forward digital distribution model in collaboration with Distrify, which offers like-minded organizations and individuals the ability to embed the film on their websites and social media pages to create additional revenue streams.

All profits from the digital release of MARS AT SUNRISE will go back into the Fund in order to finance additional projects. The Judges will be looking for micro budget projects that can benefit from the resources and distribution channels that MARS AT SUNRISE is utilizing in its digital distribution. The goal of the project is to fully fund films as well as supply partial funding to projects with bigger budgets. The long term goal of the Fund is to release five projects every two years, growing the pool of funding every year over a ten year period until the collective is able to develop, produce and distribute five feature length projects every funding cycle. Information on the additional five selected Fajr Falestine films for the 2014 cycle will be available during the digital distribution of the film.

For more information about the Fajr Falestine Film Fund, please visit:

About the Eyes Infinite Foundation
The Eyes Infinite Foundation is a 501c3 Non Profit Organization dedicated to documenting the relationship between creativity and social change. The Foundation was responsible for the production of twelve original short documentaries made in Israel and Palestine between the years of 2004 and 2008. Recently the Foundation has teamed up with Misfit Media to bring Eyes Infinite’s focus to include artists and projects within the United States of America as well.


MARS AT SUNRISE is the story of a war waged on imagination. A painter’s resistance, courage and spirit can never be imprisoned in this highly stylized story of the conflict of two frustrated artists on either side of Israel’s militarized borders. Inspired by the creative journey of renowned Palestinian artist in exile Hani Zurob and on true stories and testimonies from the region, we witness expression, confinement, torture, jealousy, courage and freedom as both artists from each culture strive to paint a picture of life surrounded by conflict.

Mars at Sunrise stars Ali Suliman as Khaled, Golden Globe Winner for Best Foreign Film 2005, Paradise Now; Guy El Hanan as Eyal, an Israeli radio personality and an accomplished playwright; and Haale Gafori as Azzadeh, a singer based in Brooklyn and author of the film’s original poetry. The soundtrack features six languages (English, Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish, Farsi and Arabic) and was produced by Tamir Muskat of the Balkan Beat Box, and featuring original music by Itamar Ziegler and Mohsen Subhi.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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3 Responses

  1. tontitonti on January 17, 2014, 10:09 pm

    If you cannot get access to the distribution systems in the US, you can make extraordinary films and no one will see them.

  2. Taxi on January 18, 2014, 8:28 am

    Wow! Bravo to the collective!

    Hope you raise mucho dollaroz and spread the Palestinian narrative out.

    Looking forward to your projects.

    Why not do fundraisers to collect donations too?

  3. bilal a on January 18, 2014, 1:07 pm

    One might mention that this effort is, well, Israeli.

    April 26, 2008: The Israel-Palestine Committee’s workshop at the 2008 Brooklyn Peace Fair showed the documentary film Mandatory Service followed by discussion with Jessica Habie (director) and Jill Ariela of Eyes Infinite Films. Mandatory Service is a powerful depiction of the education and evolution of young Israeli artists from soldier to peacemaker with the formation of Combatants For Peace. The film won Best Documentary Short Award at the Tribeca Film Festival 2008, where the jury panel called it “a perspective of war and conflict from participants themselves. The Israeli’s empathy for the Palestinians is not a perspective we glimpse too often in Western media.”

    Screenwriter Jessica Habie

    Producer Nirah Shirazipour
    [she worked for BUSTAN on a number of projects concerned with fostering sustainable development in the Negev desert of Israel and in Palestine.
    As an activist, she has worked with the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz, and she has co-lead a delegation to Israel/Palestine with the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), where she linked up with Eyes Infinite Films.
    Nirah has spent most of the past two years working in Israel and Palestine, producing the Art and Apathy Documentary Project. ]

    Editor Effi Cohen

    Directors of Photography Yvonne Miklosh, Melissa Ulto, Jessica Habie

    Assistant Editor Adele Levin

    Still Photography Michael Kolchesky, Steve Sabella, Nirah Shirazipour

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