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Life is Beautiful - Al Haya Helwa

 
 

Mohamed Jabaly

Mohamed is a Palestinian filmmaker and artist from Gaza City. He won Best Directing at IDFA for Life is Beautiful and his previous award-winning documentary Ambulance was shown at the world’s largest film festivals and has been broadcast globally. Mohamed has held workshops in filmmaking for young people and served on juries for several film festivals. He has a BA from Nordland Film & Art College in Northern Norway and is studying at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts for his MA while touring his new film.

 
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Palestinian filmmaker Mohamed Jabaly insists on telling stories from his hometown Gaza sharing his own experiences and perspectives, not accepting the boundaries imposed by international politics and rigid bureaucracy. Stuck in the cold and dark arctic of Northern Norway, only able to connect to his family online, he manages to activate his own creativity and the support from his friends to keep up his motto LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.

As a young filmmaker, Mohamed is invited to Gaza's sister city Tromsø for a film festival in 2014, but leaving the strip is almost impossible. When he manages to get to Norway finally, the borders to his homeland close indefinitely. It will be seven years before he sees his family again.

Friends back home tell Mohamed to seek asylum but having grown up in the coastal city of Gaza, Mohamed refuses to give up his Palestinian identity. In Norway, he is now considered stateless, and his application for an artist’s visa is rejected as he does not meet the qualification criteria as a self-taught filmmaker. In 2016, he completes his first film AMBULANCE to great international success. Still, Mohamed is denied a work permit and after several appeals, he decides to take his case to court, backed by a growing group of supporters.

In the meantime, Mohamed lives a parallel life online. While he films himself and his friends and colleagues in the snow-covered serenity of the Nordic landscape, the conversations with his family in Gaza provide solace. When Mohamed wins his court case and Gaza is attacked again, the young man experiences unimaginable pain of being separated from his suffering loved ones, now faced with an impossible choice: if he goes back to Gaza, he may never be able to leave again and continue his work as the acclaimed director he has become. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL - AL HAYA HELWA tells of overcoming global politics and rigid bureaucracy, using all the creativity to connect with the world, going forward, with a smile.