film_planetofthearabs_001.jpgIt is coming up to the time for the London Palestine Film Festival, which is run by the Palestine Society at SOAS, and has been a rip-roaring success over the past few years. Having gone from a small University only festival, to now having half their screenings at the Barbican, they have managed to push out the idea of Palestine as a film making force, even if the films are often a bit single issue. Go figure. Anyway, it opens on the 27th April.

One of the shorts I saw there a couple of years ago stuck with me and was interesting regarding a new column in Sight & Sound. This slow moving organ has instigated a small but welcome column on downloads (considering they still don’t have a TV column this is nigh on remarkable). But the article is more focused on how YouTube and GoogleVideo has suddenly opened a treasure chest of short films. And not just of people getting run over by trams. And so Planet Of The Arabs, a short which would previously had tiny distribution can now be seen by anyone with an internet connection. You can see it here now as well:

Alternatively you can see it on the YouTube page, and see the tediously predictable comments which stretch over ten pages. What Jacqueline Salloum’s film doe sis knit together clips from films to underline as survey made by Jack Shaheen in his book “Reel Bad Arabs”. The book was a survey of portrayals of Arabs in Hollywood films, and of the 1,000 films that had Arab or Muslim characters, 12 were positive depictions, 52 were even-handed and the remainder were negative. The short itself might be a sledgehammer to crack a nut (and is only sourced from about ten films itself) but via a cracking score it manages itself to be entertaining much like the recent Christian Marclay installation at the White Cube. Crossfire was four facing screens showing relentless gunfire between the screens: noisy, aggressive and yet beautiful too. It made its obvious point (ain’t there a lot of guns in films and ain’t they fetishised) but did so without losing the fetishism itself. Planet Of The Arabs may highlight the stereotyping of Arab Muslims in US films, but as a wry comedy itself, is very entertaining.