Naila and the Uprising


Documentary Films | 2017 | 76 minutes

Stranger Says:

By focusing on Naila Ayesh, documentarian Julia Bacha captures the Palestinian struggle from a distinctly feminist perspective. Naila grew up in the West Bank under Israeli occupation (lyrical animation stands in for incidents for which Bacha lacked primary source material). When the military demolished her home in 1969, a resistance fighter emerged. In college, she met activist Jamal Zakout, who became her husband. While starting a family, they fought in the First Intifada and suffered harsh reprisals. Even after the authorities deported men by the thousands, she kept going, encouraging female self-reliance in every way. She is a truly inspirational figure.

SIFF Says:

In her second documentary feature, director Julia Bacha chronicles the compelling story of Naila Ayesh and her role in the nonviolent Palestinian uprising known as the First Intifada. This story begins when she is eight years, growing up in Ramallah on the West Bank. One day at school, she and her sisters hear an explosion, only to discover later that their home has been demolished by the Israeli authorities. Living in Gaza in the late 1980s when the protests first broke out, she joined an underground network of women who led a resistance movement that would bring the Palestinian quest for self- determination to the world’s attention. With many men having been deported or arrested, women took the lead in the political and social organizing that would eventually lead to the Oslo peace talks. (Despite their contributions, these women found themselves largely supplanted by men when Yasser Arafat returned from exile to form the Palestinian Authority in 1994.) The film recounts their struggle and their sacrifices as well as their successes, exploring the often-high personal cost of their political activism. Creatively combining animation, archival imagery, and personal interviews, NAILA AND THE UPRISING tells a powerful story that, until now, has remained largely untold.

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Film Credits
Julia Bacha
Naila Ayyesh, Zahira Kamal, Sama Aweidah, Rabeha Diab, Terry Boulata
SIFF 2018