Dar al-Kalima grad receives award at Cannes Film Festival!


Dar al Kalima graduate, Wisam Al Jafari receives 3rd prize at Cannes International Film Festival!

The first Dar al-Kalima University of Arts graduate to be represented at this prestigious international films festival received a Cinéfondation prize, an award for emerging filmmakers for his film, Ambience. His film takes the unique approach of representing life in a Palestinian refugee camp through its sounds. Anne Marie Jacir, perhaps Palestine’s most internationally recognized filmmakers said this about Al Jafari’s nomination:

The selection of Wisam Aljafari’s film Ambience to Festival de Cannes has put me over the moon on a personal level. Not only because of the joy knowing that the cast and crew will celebrate this moment for the rest of their lives. Not only because Wisam comes from my little town of Bethlehem Not only because he grew up in the #Deheisha Refugee Camp, a place very dear and near to me where I spent three years. And not only because exactly fifteen years ago my own short film was also selected to Cannes in the same section and it changed my whole life and launched my career.
But also because this moment is historic.

Every year Cinéfondation selects films from accredited film schools all over the world . My film was the first short film from the Arab world to be in Cannes but I also went representing Columbia University, incidentally also a first for them. But this year, for the first time ever, a Palestinian school is being represented. Dar Al Kalima College. Something which did not even exist a few years ago. Dar al Kalima has managed to mentor, offer support, and help countless new and talented Palestinian filmmakers realize their dreams. Thanks to the amazing and tireless work of people like Saed Andoni, Majdi El-Omari, Mitri Raheb, Rehab Nazzal, and so many others… PALESTINE IS IN CANNES!

Join us in congratulating Wisam, and our colleagues at Dar al-Kalima University! What tremendous news to celebrate during Bright Stars of Bethlehem’s 15th Anniversary!

View our announcement video HERE.

View the film trailer HERE.

Dar al-Kalima grad is headed to Cannes Film Festival!

Wisam Al-Jafari’s short film, Ambience was one of 17 films selected out of 2,000 international submissions for a Cinéfondation award, a prize given to emerging filmmakers. The jury will award three Cinéfondation prizes on May 23 at the Palais des Festivals Buñuel Theatre.
This recognition also marks the first time Dar al-Kalima is represented at this prestigious festival. Congratulations to Wisam and his faculty mentors!

We wish Wisam the best as he heads to Cannes next month for the festival! Congratulations to the faculty mentors and staff at Dar al-Kalima University that made this work possible! What a joy to support these creative leaders!

Dar al-Kalima launches international student film festival

This April, Dar al Kalima University of Arts and Culture launched the first film festival in Bethlehem showcasing student films from across the world. From April 1-6, the college screened over 74 films from 16 countries and 18 schools. For six days straight, the college drew crowds from morning until evening to watch student films and participate in discussions and workshops. Jury committees comprised of internationally renowned filmmakers including Annmarie Jacir, awarded works in three categories: fiction, documentary, and experimental.

During the opening ceremony, Rev. Dr. Raheb noted that this festival signals Bethlehem as a cultural capital of the Middle East. “This occupied city whose concrete walls have tried to trap our people is also a city that embodies the world, that creatively resists imposed limits,” he announced. “By creating this global artistic exchange in the heart of Palestine, Bethlehem becomes a window to the world and a bridge that connects people across national, religious and cultural boundaries.”

Student organizers also shared this vision. Rana, founder and director of Dar al-Kalima’s film club, shared, “We are a generation that grew up without movie theaters or local film festivals. Yet, today, here we are, producing films that compete in international festivals. We could not do this without the support of our professors and the film program here.”

The festival opened on Land Day, a holiday that celebrates the connection of Palestinians to the cherished land of their ancestors. This timing was not a coincidence, film professor and festival director Said Andoni remarked. “Our film is a tool of resistance, a vehicle by which we explore and raise awareness of culturally relevant issues.”

Dar al-Kalima students picked up two awards.

Salah Abu Neima’s “Area C” won best Palestinian short film. The movie tells the story of a Hussein, a young Palestinian boy who tries to keep his home and family safe from Israeli settler’s daily attacks in Area C, a Palestinian area in the West Bank surrounded by Israeli settlements. Shayma’ Awawdeh’s “4th Floor” received an honorable mention for its account of a young woman who moves out of her family’s home to seek independence. While transporting her belongings on an elevator, she discovers the unexpected awaits her.