Sunday, September 27, 2009

Toronto Palestine Film Festival opens with sell out first day crowd

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PRESS RELEASE - For Immediate Release                      September 27, 2009
Toronto Palestine Film Festival's Opening Film Thrills Audience
Toronto ? More than 900 people turned up for the second annual Toronto Palestine Film Festival (TPFF) at the Bloor Cinema last night. Enthusiastic crowds came to see the Canadian premiere of the internationally acclaimed comedy-drama Amreeka, written and directed by Palestinian-American Cherien Dabis. The film tells the story of a single mother who leaves Ramallah for the US to provide her teenage son a better future.

Rafeef Ziadah, festival coordinator, welcomed the sold-out theatre by thanking them for their tremendous support and making the opening night a huge success. She told the audience that ?we started planning TPFF09 as bombs were being dropped on Gaza so we decided to shine a spotlight on Gaza with our films.?

Following the screening, the film?s Canadian producers Christina Piovesan and Paul Barkin, assistant director Markian Saray, and the film?s youngest actress, Jenna Kawar, participated in a lively question and answer discussion with members of audience. Piovesan said the film was more than seven years in the making and reflected the director?s childhood experience growing up in the US during the Iraq war.  When asked whether they preferred filming in Ramallah or Manitoba, Piovesan responded by saying they had a great experience filming in Ramallah and really enjoyed working with the Palestinian crew on the film; whereas it ?snowed in May in Manitoba.? 

Invited guests celebrated the successful opening at a gala reception held at the Butler?s Pantry after the film. Guests included members of the Arab community, co-presenters, sponsors, filmmakers, and a number of prominent Torontonians. Dania Majid, festival organizer and media liaison, acknowledged the dedication and incredible work of the volunteer-based TPFF organizing committee in creating a programme that features 34 films, an art exhibit, a film food brunch and three discussion forums.  Majid explained that ?TPFF believes it plays an important role as a Palestinian cultural institution by bringing the best of Palestinian art and culture to Toronto.?

The festival continues through the week with 10 Canadian premieres and three North American premieres. On September 27, 2009, TPFF starts the day with the sold-out SAHTAIN! Film & Food Brunch, where participants will enjoy two food-themed short films and a traditional Palestinian brunch prepared by Isam Kaisi, chef and owner of 93 Harbord. In the afternoon, TPFF will feature two films by the masters of Palestinian cinema ? Tale of Three Jewels, by Michel Kleifi and Rana?s Wedding by Hany Abu-Assad.

Dania Majid, Media Liaison
Toronto Palestine Film Festival
September 26-October 2, 2009