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by Samantha Hill
June 12th, 2012

Rooftop is not the only summer series featuring provocative independent film here in New York. Hosted by Film Society Lincoln Center, Human Rights Watch Film Festival begins this Thursday, June 14th, and runs through Thursday, June 28th.

Seeking to promote justice and security around the globe through artistic expression, the festival screenings are grouped into five themes: Health, Development and the Environment; Migrants’ Rights; Personal Testimony and Witnessing; Reporting in Crises; and Women’s Rights.

Writer/Director Susan Youssef, one of the grantees for the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund, is screening her film Habibi at HRWFF this week. Also in the selection for the 2011 Toronto and Venice Film Festivals, Habibi tells the story of forbidden love between two Gazan students in the West Bank. The lovers, Qays and Layla, defy their families and society after their time at university is cut short. Qays, a construction worker living in a refugee camp, graffitis the epic poem Majnun Layla all over walls throughout town in declaration of his love for Layla, angering both her father and the local self-appointed moral police.  This lyrical romantic drama examines what happens when love and self-expression collide with strict social and familial expectations.

And of course, don’t forget to check out the Habibi’s trailer and website

Youssef is a director to keep an eye on. She’s currently ranked number 25 on the ‘100 Most Powerful Arab Women’ List in Arab Business, and was named on of ’25 New Faces’ by Filmmaker Magazine.  Come out to support a member of the Rooftop family!

Tickets and more festival information is available here.

Habibi (Dir. Susan Youssef)

Palestine, Arabic with English subtitles

Screenings On Sat June 16th 9:15pm, Sun June 17th 1:30pm, Mon June 18th 6:30pm

The Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street New York NY 10023

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About Rooftop Films

Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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