The Haifa Independent Film Festival HIFF was born in 2015 with the dream of reviving pre-Nakba’s Haifa as a cultural capital for the arts. With a background of cultural management and activism, film management, and production, we wanted to bring cinematography to Haifa after noticing that Palestinian films and local productions received recognition around the world with little or no Palestinian audience. This was an answer to the reality of political agendas, lack of independent cinema theaters, and a catch 22 situation of Palestinians living in the state of Israel.
Several meetings were held when founders Rojeh Khleif and Lena Mansour joined forces with their long time friends;Lina Soualem, Ayed Fadel, Riyad Sliman, Rasha Hilwi and Hilal Jabareen, with the aim of creating the First Independent Film Festival in Haifa. The Festival was launched with almost no budget, and the team minimal but mighty.
Eventually, It really happened: On March 14th 2016 HIFF’s first film Program was announced with 18 movies shown in the span of 5 days in independent Palestinian cultural venues including Kabareet, Khashabi Theatre, the Arab Cultural Center and al Yakhour offering a chance to the local community and local filmmakers to take part in. Workshops, talks and cultural events accompanied the festival, and the city of Haifa was packed with film lovers from all over Palestine to join the celebration.
HIFF was and still is a volunteer-run festival and we could not do this without the support of sponsors, filmmakers and the audiences who appreciate these films, and these incredible stories as much as we do.