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Witness Palestine series branches out in sixth year


The Witness Palestine Film Series, back for a sixth year, continues its mission to spotlight the human rights issues at the heart of the decades-spanning conflict between Palestine and Israel. Along with the annual film series (which runs through the beginning of October), this year's festival branches out with a multidisciplinary program of events that kicks off this weekend with a talk by keynote speaker, novelist, essayist, and poet Susan Abulhawa on Sunday, September 10, at 2 p.m. Admission to the lecture is free.

Also scheduled is a staged reading of the play "There is a Field," which will be performed as part of the upcoming Rochester Fringe Festival on Thursday, September 14, 9 p.m., and Thursday, September 28, 7:30 p.m., at MuCCC (142 Atlantic Avenue). Tickets are $10.

This year's Witness Palestine event also adds an art exhibition to the mix, "Bethlehem Beyond the Wall," which will be on display from October 1 through October 14 in Lorette Wilmot Library Lobby at Nazareth College (4245 East Avenue). Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., every day.

The lineup of films gets off to a strong start with the crowd-pleasing musical drama "Junction 48." The film stars charismatic Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar as an aspiring musician named Kareem, and follows him through the club scene where he uses hip-hop as a means to combat the discrimination he faces as an Arab living in Tel Aviv. This screening will be followed by a Skype Q&A with director Udi Aloni. (Sunday, September 17, 2 p.m., at The Little Theatre, 240 East Avenue)

Next up is a pair of short films, "Gaza in Context" and "Gaza Fixer: A Chronicle of Survival," which examine the ongoing violence in the region from a variety of angles, and confronting the realities of Israeli occupation. (Monday, September 18, 6:45 p.m., at The Little)

The psychological thriller "Eyes of a Thief," follows an engineer named Tareq (Khaled Abol Naga), as he's released from an Israeli prison after 10 years. Returning home to find that his wife has died and his daughter missing, he sets out to find what remains of the family he left behind. But a dark secret from his past threatens to ruin any chance he has at piecing his life back together. (Sunday, September 24, 2 p.m., The Little)

The eye-opening "Occupation of the American Mind" examines the ways in which the narrative about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been influenced over the decades by PR campaigns which work to shift American opinions in Israel's favor. (Monday, September 25, 6:45 p.m., The Little)

"Disturbing the Peace" follows the efforts of Combatants for Peace, an activist group in which Palestinian and Israeli soldiers come together to help bring an end to the violence and bloodshed of their homeland. Along the way, the film shows how the organization's members were able to transition from their time in the military into becoming non-violent activists for peace. This event is free. (Monday, October 9, 6:30 p.m., St. John Fisher College, 3690 East Avenue).

Admission to each film in the series is $10, and $5 for students, except where otherwise noted. Find a full schedule of events at

Coming Attractions

Art House Theater Day is an annual event paying tribute to an institution that's near and dear to all our hearts: the independent movie theater. This year's event will be held Sunday, September 24. In celebration The Little will feature a day-long lineup of films ranging from family-friendly animation to "Titicut Follies" -- Frederick Wiseman's documentary taking viewers inside the walls of the State Prison for the Criminally Insane at Bridgewater, Massachusetts -- and acclaimed new indies, like "Columbus," starring John Cho and Parker Posey. Visit for the complete schedule.

On Saturday, September 23, at 8 p.m., Visual Studies Workshop will screen "Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present," a biographic film about the life and pioneering work of the avant-garde artist, musician, and educator. $5 suggested donation for admission.

Starting September 15 and continuing through October, AMC Webster will show a series of Disney's hugely popular animated princess films. The lineup will include classics like "Beauty and the Beast," "Mulan," "Tangled," "Princess and the Frog," and Pixar's "Brave." More info and a full list of showtimes at

Mark your calendars: dates have been announced for the second installment of the One-Take Documentary Film Festival, which will be held April 19 through April 22, 2018.


"It," "Home Again," "The Oath," "Menashe."