Ameen Nayfeh, a Palestinian filmmaker, claims he felt proud after filming his personal struggle to see his dying grandpa across an Israeli military checkpoint. However, he did not anticipate a large audience for his short film.
That all changed on Thursday, when Netflix released a new Palestinian film collection, the first of its type from a major streaming service, which included Nayfeh’s award-winning short The Crossing.
Talking to media, Nayfeh said “This is why we make films, because we want our stories to travel, we want people to know about us. Now when you type Palestine in the search button on Netflix, you will see so many different titles that you can watch. Before, when I would type Palestine I would get Israeli titles”.
Netflix’s new Palestinian Stories collection is made up of 32 award-winning films created by Palestinian filmmakers or telling Palestinian stories, according to a press statement released on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Netflix, Nuha El Tayeb said “The diversification of our content sits close to my heart as Netflix works to become the home of Arabic cinema”.
Many of the films portray Palestinian life in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel annexed in the 1967 Middle East conflict and which Palestinians hope to become an independent state in the future.
Due to security concerns, Israel maintains military checkpoints throughout the West Bank. Palestinians claim that the barriers make it difficult for them to move throughout the territory.
After Spotify introduced its music streaming service in the Middle East and North Africa in 2018, Palestinian artists started to enjoy the benefits of streaming to a global audience.
According to Netflix, all users now have access to the new collection of Palestinian films.
Huda al Imam, who starred in the Oscar-nominated film Ave Maria, which is also part of Netflix’s Palestinian collection, believes it will broaden the audience for Palestinian tales.
Al Imam said “Thanks to Netflix, now Palestinian stories and Palestinian life with its beauty and agony will be shown all around the world”.