Naila and the Uprising


Award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha specializes in documentaries about the struggle for democracy in the Middle East. Bacha, director of Encounter Point, Budrus (SFJFF 2010) and My Neighborhood (SFJFF 2012), returns to SFJFF with this dynamic portrait of Palestinian activist Naila Ayesh. What begins as a small story of one woman’s fight against the occupation grows into a complex quilt of stories in which Naila’s struggle is the thread. The film, interspersed with beautiful animation sequences, features interviews with prominent Palestinian female activists Zahira Kamal and Sama Aweidah, Israeli journalists Roni Ben Efrat and Oren Cohen and Naila and her son.

Naila, whose family life was ruptured by prison and the deportation of her husband Jamal, is a compelling interviewee who is at times passionate about her cause and at times poignant and sanguine as she recounts the price paid for her activism. Bacha’s lens expertly pulls out from the focus on Naila to present a wide-angle documentary look at the history of the first intifada and the role of Palestinian women in it. Bacha delves into the genesis of the first intifada, the Madrid peace talks and the Oslo Accords in this well-crafted documentary that offers a crash course in the conflict from the unique perspective of Palestinian women. —Nancy Fishman

Director Julia Bacha and executive producer Suhad Babaa in person

Julia Bacha is a Peabody award-winning filmmaker, media strategist and the Creative Director at Just Vision. Credits include Control Room (2004, Writer/ Editor), Encounter Point (2006, Writer/Co-Director), Budrus (2009, Director/ Producer), My Neighbourhood (2012, Director/Producer) and The Wanted 18 (2014, Impact Producer). Her work has been screened at the Sundance, Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals, broadcast on the BBC, HBO and Al Jazeera, and shared with Palestinian refugee camps and the US Congress. In addition to 20 international film festival awards, Julia is recipient of the 2017 Columbia University Medal of Excellence, 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, King Hussein Leadership Prize, Search for Common Ground Award, Ridenhour Film Prize, and PUMA Creative Impact Award. She is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, an Advisory Board Member to the Tribeca Film Institute and a TED speaker.

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