Dreams of a Nation is a Columbia University based film project committed to the preservation and promotion of Palestinian cinema.
The project began early in the 1990's with the acquisition and inclusion of Palestinian films in courses I taught at Columbia on Middle Eastern cinema. The late Edward Said and his assistant Zeyneb Asterabadi were instrumental in facilitating my initial contacts with Palestinian filmmakers, and Richard Pena was extremely helpful in helping me locate Palestinian films.
These courses eventually culminated in a major Palestinian film festival we organized in January 2003 at Columbia University, and brought to Palestine in February 2004.
The initial collection of the films screened in the course of these two festivals were subsequently expanded into a major archive of Palestinian films, which is now safely housed at Columbia University in New York City. This collection is being carefully preserved, expanded, and digitized for future use by scholars and students of Palestinian cinema.
The initial team that organized these two film festival and created this website included my research assistant Fatima Ali, as well as Columbia University students Kareem Fahim, Annemarie Jacir, and Kamran Rastegar, as well as Enas Muthaffar and Luma Shihab-Eldin. Annemarie Jacir curated these two festivals.
My edited volume, Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema (Verso, 2006) was a result of this project.
The subsequent work to expand the archive and the data base in this website was sponsored by a generous grant from the Middle East Institute, and facilitated by the dedicated librarians of Columbia University, Kaoukab Chebaro and Nancy E. Friedland. Marianna Reis was equally helpful in maintaining the archive.
Dreams of a Nation is a work in progress. We are committed to two principle objectives: 1) expanding and preserving our archive with the goal of making it the largest collection of Palestinian cinema possible— inclusive of features, shorts, and documentaries— and 2) providing a solid database documenting Palestinian cinema for contemporary use and for the posterity.
The active administration and updating of this website is now in the capable hands of the staff of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University.
Header: footage from The Roof (2006), directed by Kamal Aljafari