Madrid Palestine Film Festival is a project of the volunteer group Handala. Handala first emerged in 2010, and its aims are:
a) The establishment of a library of audiovisual resources from and about Palestine, which will be a resource available to NGOs, associations, networks, the education and science communities, media and the general public, and which will serve as a reference for anyone who wants to know Palestine and the Palestinian question through film.
b) The annual celebration of Palestinian film festivalas, exhibitions and series in the Spanish territories and Latinamerican countries. The objective is to offer new perspectives from which to understand the richness of Palestinian culture, and thereby create new ways to view the Arab-Israeli conflict. The aim is to open a space of meeting and reflection; a space for knowledge and critical dialogue regarding the situation in Palestine; and a space for reflecting on the conditions of its cinema in what is still a colonial phase and within a system of occupation.
c) The organization and realization of other complementary solidarity actions, such as the promotion of research, training, education and awareness, through available audiovisual resources.
d) The implementation and development of innovative, critical and artistic ideas and activities with a focus on social transformation, which will allow for the creation of spaces for social and cultural integration that in turn nurture relations between peoples.
e) The organization, training and support of volunteers who work to achieve the goals articulated above, both in Spain and throughout the world.
Who is Handala?
Since 1975 until 1987 Naji Al-Ali dedicated his artistic life to draw a comic to show the complexity of the situation of Palestinian people. In his drawings Handala is a refugee boy, a symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and freedom. Naji Al-Ali wrote:
“The child Handala is my signature, everyone asks me about him wherever I go. I gave birth to this child in the Gulf and I presented him to the people. His name is Handala and he has promised the people that he will remain true to himself. I drew him as a child who is not beautiful; his hair is like the hair of a hedgehog who uses his thorns as a weapon. Handala is not a fat, happy, relaxed, or pampered child. He is barefooted like the refugee camp children, and he is an icon that protects me from making mistakes. Even though he is rough, he smells of amber. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection at a time when solutions are presented to us the American way… Handala was born ten years old, and he will always be ten years old. At that age, I left my homeland, and when he returns, Handala will still be ten, and then he will start growing up. The laws of nature do not apply to him. He is unique. Things will become normal again when the homeland returns. I presented him to the poor and named him Handala as a symbol of bitterness. At first, he was a Palestinian child, but his consciousness developed to have a national and then a global and human horizon. He is a simple yet tough child, and this is why people adopted him and felt that he represents their consciousness.”