The news stories emerging from Israel-Palestine right now are devastating. Dealing with Covid anxieties in Ontario is already too much, that when images of homes on fire start to populate our social feeds, the body and mind can easily move into a numbed response. But how can we look away? 

The Toronto Palestinian Film Festival has created a helpful list of resources to help educate Canadians, including ways to take action and nonprofits to support. As well, the festival has organized some incredible programming this weekend to help deepen understanding through art and film. 

Samia Halaby is a prolific artist known as a pioneer of abstract painting. Born in Jerusalem in 1936, Samia and her family were  forced out of Palestine during the Nakba in 1948. On May 15th, she will be joining Toronto’s Palestinian Film Festival from her home in NYC, which will be available to watch on The Festival’s Facebook and YouTube channels at 5PM EST.

In 2001, Samia published her book Liberation Art of Palestine, which explores in detail how Palestinian artists have used art as a form of resistance, how artists have always persevered in toughest of circumstances, and shares how a lack of access to materials has resulted in artists using bits of exploded shell casings, and parts of houses destroyed by the Israeli army in their compositions. “The whole point of this book is to illustrate and explain that the true art of Palestine rests on the Palestinian struggle for liberation,” writes Samia. 

Samia’s work is in museums and private collections around the world, including New York’s Guggenheim Museum of Art. We are curious to listen to her perspective, both looking back at the many eras she’s experienced, and her thoughts on the escalation of violence in Israel-Palestine right now. 

Join the conversation on the Toronto Palestinian Film Festival Facebook and YouTube at 5PM EST on May 15th. Learn more about Samia Halaby and view her art here. This weekend, the TPFF will also be streaming the film You Come From Far Away by Amal Ramsis, which reveals an extraordinary story of a Palestinian family and how geopolitics interfered in their lives, dispersing them to far corners of the world, and is a testament to the power of family bonds to overcome time and distance. 

See full lineup of programming, plus resources, on the TPFF website