Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), hosted the regional premiere of the critically acclaimed documentary Walled Off, written and directed by Vin Arfuso, the latest event in the university’s Palestine Speaker Series.
The film explores the complex social, political and economic issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the impact of occupation and the separation barrier on the lives of those affected by it. Following the screening, the film’s director and two co-producers joined GU-Q scholars on a panel discussion around the themes explored in the film.
Walled Off has drawn a star-studded list of supporters, including co-producers Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and the grandson of Nelson Mandela, Kweku Mandela, who also appears in the film. In his welcoming remarks, GU-Q dean Dr. Safwan Masri commented on the film’s ability to reach new audiences and humanize personal stories of struggle. “Art that engages with social, political, and cultural issues—like this film—has the power to bring attention to important issues and create critical spaces for dialogue,” he said.
The panelists shared their unique perspectives on the impact and importance of using art, including visual art, performance art, music, literature, and film, to promote intercultural dialogue and inspire people to work towards a better world. “Art has always been a powerful tool for society to understand itself, and when it is combined with the rigors of a documentary, it can reveal new narratives and shed light on lesser-known histories and experiences,” said panel moderator and professor of history at GU-Q Dr. Abdullah Al-Arian.
Director Vin Arfuso discussed the experience of filming the documentary with friend and co-producer Anwar Hadid on a trip to their ancestral homeland, and his choice to use mainstream media clips contrasted against the authentic stories of lived realities to challenge established narratives.
Lina Hadid, a lawyer, co-producer, lobbyist, and activist, shared her experience in advocating for Palestinian rights and how art can be a powerful tool for change. Co-producer Immortal Technique, a legendary underground hip-hop artist and activist, also spoke about the power of music in raising awareness about social and political issues.
Led by Associate Professors Abdullah Al-Arian, Karine Walther, and Visiting Assistant Professor Nadya Sbaiti, and with the support of GU-Q dean Safwan Masri, the Palestine Speaker Series is part of a larger project at GU-Q which aims to provide a platform for dialogue and analysis of the historical and contemporary issues facing Palestine.