Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Palestine Unabridged" Opens in Ames, Iowa

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Palestine Unabridged" Opens in Ames, Iowa

Article excerpt

"Palestine Unabridged: Films about Life within the Conflict" opened Sept. 11 to a standing-room-only audience of about 175 people. They had come to see "Rana's Wedding" on the big screen in the Ames Public Library (APL)'s Farwell T. Brown auditorium.

"Not only were we able to bring people together to talk about issues that are important to our community," said Lynne Carey, who is in charge of APL's adult programming, "but it has been a wonderful opportunity for the library board and staff to come together to solidify our commitment to freedom of expression."

"Palestine Unabridged," scheduled to run through Dec. 11, is dedicated to the memory of Rachel Corrie, the Olympia, Washington college student and human rights activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer operator in March as she tried to protect the Gaza home of Dr. Samir Masri, a Palestinian physician. In a ceremony opening the film festival, Carey presented a plaque to Barbara Brodersen, Rachel Corrie's aunt and a University of Iowa library assistant, as Brodersen's son, Samuel Rodriguez, and sister, Colette Brodersen, an Iowa City therapist, looked on. The family has strong Iowa ties. Corrie's parents are alumni of Drake University in Des Moines, and her grandmother, Doris Corrie, lives in Des Moines.

The film festival, a major cultural event in Ames, has been a topic of some controversy in the community. On Aug. 21, a group of some 40 citizens presented to the APL board a letter describing the series of films as "biased" and criticizing APL for its sponsorship of "Palestine Unabridged." Citing its public information mission, the library declined to withdraw its support or press for changes in selection of films included. The film festival, which features films showing on alternate Thursdays and discussions on the intervening Thursdays, is co-sponsored by the APL, the Ames Interfaith Council (AIC), the Arab Student Association of Iowa State University (ISU), and the Axiom Foundation.

"Our cabinet voted unanimously to cosponsor 'Palestine Unabridged' with the APL and to help fund the film festival, which many people now understand is a valuable learning experience for the entire community," said Sana Akili, AIC vice chair and ISU Arab Student Association faculty adviser. "This is part of a healthy and vital interfaith dialogue. We are proud of Ames and glad that our city has venues for interfaith dialogue."

In addition to "Rana's Wedding"-a comedy-drama depicting a hectic day in the life of a young Palestinian Muslim woman who challenges the customs of her own community even as she overcomes the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of life under Israeli occupation-"Palestine Unabridged" features 12 additional films. …

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