We started our 2018 programme in our new home, The Institute of Light – a beautiful, independent cinema hidden under the railway arches of London Fields.
The evening began with a beautiful display of photography, all shot across various locations in Palestine, by two photographers – Sam Dearden, whose work documented Palestine’s then-fledgling skate scene, and Mouna Kalla-Sacranie, whose technique of dual-exposure illuminated a familial and serene snapshot of Palestinian culture (one rarely reflected in Western media).
Our first film of the year brought together an unexpected combination: skateboarding and Palestine. Epicly Palestine’d follows the rise of Palestine’s skate scene, and the rebellious teenagers who are leading the trend. With skateboards a scarcity, they are resourceful – sharing boards and alternating turns as they compete to be the first skater in Palestine to nail each trick. The backdrop of the occupation is ever-present, with the separation wall looming in several shots. In this light, the freedom of skateboarding becomes more pertinent, as the skaters reimagine their ‘conservative towns’ and occupied lands as a concrete playground for kickflips and ollies. In it’s telling of the rise of skateboarding in Palestine, the film also reflects the wonderful work of Skatepal, a grassroots charity which has been working to fuel interest in the sport in the area. The passion built into this project is clear.
Following the screening, we were joined by Theo Krish, the director of Epicly Palestine’d, and Dani Abulhawa, a Skatepal ambassador and an academic focusing on skateboarding, gender and politics. We discussed the importance of giving Palestinian children the opportunity for healthy escapism, creativity and a community subculture built by and for them. Skatepal is first a foremost a gathering of skateboarders, united in their love of the sport. The day-to-day reality of living under occupation was central to the conversation, again reflecting the power of helping these children feel part of a global community, in which their voices can be amplified.
The evening was hosted in aid of Skatepal, raising £400 to support their ambition to create a self-sustaining skate scene in Palestine.