Witch Hunt is a 62 minute documentary on the victimisation of Palestinian activist and ant–racist Jackie Walker as part of the British Labour Party’s attack on supposed ‘antisemitism’. The better-known Jeremy Corbyn is another target of this fraudulent campaign. The documentary allows Jackie Walker to explain her experiences and she is supported by  a number of pro-Palestinian activists, including  other Labour Party members, academics and artists. The screening is part of an event organised by Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Witch Hunt sets out to investigate the stories and the people behind the headlines, examining the nature of the accusations. Is this a witch hunt, as some claim? If so, who is behind it, and what is the political purpose of such a campaign? Has the media failed in its duty to fairness and accuracy in reporting on such serious allegations? Through a series of interviews, analysis and witness testimony, Witch Hunt explores the connections between the attacks on Labour, the ongoing tragedy of Palestine and the wider struggle against race-based oppression. It argues that, if it is to mean anything at all, the fight against racism must be a shared one, that includes all peoples.

This production has been supported by the Jewish Voice for Labour. Their web pages include a range of posts: on the abuses in the ‘anti-semitism’ campaign: on the moves by the British State to muzzle the Palestinian Voice and that of its supporters: on the actions here and in the USA of  solidarity with the Palestinian people: and reports and comments on the struggle of the Palestinians to free Palestine.

The screening will be introduced by the director Jon Pullman and he will also join in the discussion following the screening on the issues that it raises.  The Hyde Park Book Club is one of the more interesting venues in Leeds and offers both refreshments and a library of second-hand books; on my last visit I found a volume from the collected writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin. If you cannot attend the event you will find a video on the Witch Hunt pages and well as other information.

Another important work to be found online is Eleven Days in May  which is on the Al Jazeera web pages. This documentary  charts the eleven days in May 2021 when Israel once again waged war on Gaza, killing and injuring many people, including killing sixty seven children.  Here we are presented with the actual stories of fifty four of the innocent children killed in what were clearly war crimes.

The documentary has been made by Mohammed Sawwaf and Michael Winterbottom. Mohammed Sawwaf is a Gaza based journalist and film-maker and founder of Alef Media  Company which produced the documentary. Michael Winterbottom is a British filmmaker whose work has not generally received the attention or praise it deserves. His earlier films include The Road to Guantanamo (2005) and In This World (2002) about Afghan refugees. He is also part of the production company Revolution Films which is distributing this title.

The documentary was filmed by Mohammed Sawwaf together with cinematographer Salah Alhaw and a small production team. They then sent about one hundred hours of footage to Michael Winterbottom in London who edited this, together with Otto Hill-Fletcher, into an eighty five minute movie. A narration to the documentary was added and voiced by Kate Winslet. The narration is in English whilst Palestinians speak in Arabic with English sub-titles.

 . . . the audience witnesses mere moments of lifetime pains.

Siblings, some so young that they will soon lose vivid memories of their killed brothers or sisters, shuffle nervously as they speak about their bereavement. Mothers and fathers put on brave faces in front of their surviving children, but break into tears when filmed alone. Keepsakes are carefully laid out in front of the camera – a Star Wars hoodie, a school certificate, the kind of necklace that costs a pittance but means the world to a little girl.

And we see mobile phone photos and videos, complete with cartoon-like Snapchat filters, showing the children full of life and happy before images of them which attest to the grimmest realities of war – small bodies, bloodied, and torn into pieces.

Wikipedia has a brief page on the title which includes links to some reviewers. Apart from praise these tend to point up the bleakness of the stories. However, the participants, family members, neighbours and friends, generally speak with restraint and dignity; though occasionally their grief breaks forth.

Revolution Films seem to have distributed the title through the Picture House network. However, I could not find any information online or at Picture House. It looks likely that there were some screenings in 2022 in London. It was screened at the 2022 Bristol Palestine Film Festival. Hopefully we will be able to see it at the 2023 Leeds Palestinian Film Festival. The title was classified by the BBFC as 18, the reason given being is

images of real dead bodies, bloody images

This presumably has restricted screenings. Presumably Saving Private Ryan only used dummy bodies and so escaped with 15.

Unfortunately the version presented by Al Jazeera runs slightly less than fifty minutes; a cut of about half-an-hour. This version has been effectively edited but I did feel that some of the later stories were shorter than the earlier ones and there was a sense near the end of winding up the documentary. Netherless it remains a compelling if distressing presentation; all the more so in a week when the Israeli military are once again waging war on Gaza and its people. And there is also an interview with both Mohammed Sawwaf and Michael Winterbottom on the Al Jazeera web pages.

It is worth looking at some of the other documentaries and programmes also on these web pages. There are several presenting the voices of Palestinians in the Witness series. And type ‘Palestine’ in the search box and a list of titles will appear including several dealing with the Al-Nakba, remembered in demonstration in the past week.