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Little Palestine, journal d’un siège
Little Palestine, journal d’un siège
Cinema
Work

5 min

Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege, a documentary by Abdallah Al-Khatib

Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege is a moving documentary by activist Abdallah Al-Khatib that takes us to the heart of the siege of Yarmouk, in the suburbs of Damascus. 

© Films de Force Majeure
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Child of Yarmouk

Abdallah Al-Khatib was born and raised in Yarmouk, a suburb of Damascus. A neighbourhood he filmed daily from 2013, when a tragic siege began that would last several years. In this Palestinian refugee camp founded in 1957, Abdallah Al-Khatib became involved with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) at the age of 17. A supporter of the revolution against the regime of Bashar Al Assad, he became involved in humanitarian activism when war broke out in his neighbourhood. Thanks to a camera given to him by a friend who tried to flee, he decided to document the daily struggles of the inhabitants of Yarmouk. 

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A martyred population

Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege plunges the viewer into the chilling daily life of a civilian population confronted with hunger, bombings and the hostility of several warring factions. The siege of Yarmouk by the regime's forces in 2013 is followed by the occupation of the neighbourhood by Daesh and other Islamist factions. Abdallah Al-Khatib, who has been the target of several assassination attempts by these different groups, is gradually forced to go underground. In Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege, he recounts his own commitment, and his mother's, to the inhabitants. He now lives in Germany and after several years of post-production, his documentary, which offers an invaluable testimony, has been released internationally. 

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Cinematographic gesture

Camera in hand, often taken by surprise by events, in Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege, Abdallah Al-Khatib documents the joys and sorrows of a population that lacks everything, but has developed an exceptional resilience coupled with unfailing solidarity. While Abdallah Al-Khatib took part in the life of Yarmouk as an activist (he received the Per Anger Award in 2016 for his commitment), Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege offers another cinematic approach. He defined it himself as the desire to "film the human experience with poetry and with dignity". This gives his images a different purpose, not only of testimony, but also of tribute and justice. 

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An international co-production

Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege is a French, Qatari and Lebanese co-production between Films de Force Majeure and Bidayyat for Audiovisual Art. Acclaimed at the Cinéma du réel festival, it has been selected for several dozen international events and received more than a dozen awards, including the Best Documentary Award at the Innsbruck International Film Festival. It has also received numerous writing and editing grants from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, the World Cinema Fund and the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture. 

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The Institut français and the work

Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege was supported by the Aide aux cinémas du monde fund. This Institut français programme provides support to foreign film-makers for film projects co-produced with France, whether they be feature-length fiction, animated films or creative documentaries. 

Find out more about the Aide aux cinémas du monde programme