Al Madina Festival for Culture and the Arts For the first time in Haifa

Al Madina Festival for Culture and the Arts, organized and executed by The Arab Culture Association (ACA), concluded on Sunday, November 3rd 2019, its activities for its first experimental edition, with the screening of the movie “It Must Be Heaven” by Elia Suliman, screened in the theatre of the Arab Cultural Center in Haifa.

The Festival took place in Haifa over the span of 3 days (November 1st- 3rd 2019), and incorporated artistic and cultural activities for all age groups and all members of society: art exhibition, performing arts, Palestinian Circus, cultural and political panels and symposiums, and screening of Palestinian movies. Hundreds of Palestinians participated from Haifa and the surrounding areas.

Pixelated Peripheries Exhibition by Lama Suleiman

Al Madina Festival opened with an art Exhibition for Palestinian artists from 1948 territories, the West Bank, Gaza and the diaspora, enforcing the unity of the Palestinian nation wherever it exists. The first day activities included a panel on the “Cultural Policies of the Palestinian Historical Cities”, and “Jerusalem Calling Radio” musical performance of Palestinian songs and pieces broadcasted in Jerusalem before the Nakbah, performed by Nawa Group and Artist Alaa’ Azzam.

Nawa Group and Artist Alaa’ Azzam

The second day started off with a tour of the city of Haifa with tour guide Bilal Dirbas, who explained the political and cultural effects of the Nakbah on the city of Haifa and how Israel used a systematic policy to destroy the Palestinian City and attempt to erase its traces. After the tour, the Palestinian Circus performed in the streets of Wadi Al Nisnas, then gave a workshop and an outstanding performance in the Arab Cultural Center for children. 

Palestinian Circus during their street performance in Wadi AlNisnas in Haifa

On the second day, the festival continued with an exhibition of local products by Bustana Farm and Philokalia, a workshop on Organic Gardening and how to build an organic and sustainable dietary system in Palestine, a lecture on Agriculture as an Educational Tool for Children’s Development, and a workshop by Palestine Hostings’ founder Mirna Bamyah. A musical workshop followed titled “Our Lost Voices” which presented the Palestinian musical renaissance and development before the Nakbah. The second day concluded with the screening of “Mussolini’s Sister” by Palestinian Director Juna Suleiman.

The third and last day started with enriching political and cultural symposiums; the first addressed the Political and Youth Movements in the City, with the participation of Talaat Movement, Mkamleen Movement, and Haifa Youth Movement. The second addressed the Past and Present in Palestine, with a presentation of the Palestinian Museum and their digital archive. The last symposium addressed the Disconnected Cultural Discourse in Haifa on the city’s urban planning and the attempts to annihilate its Arab culture.

The Political and Youth Movements in the City, facilitated by journalist Amir Al Khatib

For the first time in Haifa, “Experimental Lab” performance was created and produced by ACA for Al Madina Festival, which included different performance arts: spoken word, music, acrobatic and dance performances presented by esteemed local artists. The festival ended with the screening of the movie “It Must Be Heaven” by Eliya Suleiman.

In her statement about the festival, the director of ACA, Rula Khoury stated “the idea of the festival was created to enrich the cultural movements and discussion in the country, and to emphasize the importance of culture in the renaissance of societies and their development, in addition to creating independent cultural spaces such as the Arab Culture Association.”

Khoury added “ we at the Arab Culture Association see the great importance of cultural work and the necessity of intensifying it in 1948 territories. We aspire to provide space for all Palestinian cultural creations in all fields, in addition, we aspire that the festival will spread to more historical Palestinian cities in its upcoming annual editions, and to include all Palestinian cultural institutions.”