Life is Beautiful

Director: Mohamed Jabaly
Length: 93 min


The young Palestinian director Mohamed Jabaly is visiting a film festival in Tromsø in 2014, when the borders to Gaza close. He finds himself stuck in the arctic winter. Little does he know that it will be seven years before he can see his family again.

While waiting for the situation to change, Mohamed’s friends back home tell him to seek asylum or get married to stay in Norway. But Mohamed refuses to give up his Palestinian identity and insists on being recognized for his work. After being denied a work permit after several appeals, despite his film Ambulance gaining international success, he decides to take his case to court backed by a growing group of supporters.


As this unfolds, Mohamed lives a parallel life online, staying connected with family in Gaza. They provide solace, but when Gaza is attacked again, Mohamed experiences the pain of being separated from his loved ones and is faced with an impossible choice: if he goes back to Gaza, he may never be able to leave again and continue his work as an acclaimed film director, sharing his stories with the world.

Life is Beautiful is a story of overcoming a life put on hold by international politics and rigid bureaucracy, told from the inside by a director who uses all his creativity to connect with the world and forge a way forward.

Film Info

Original title Al haya helwa
Director Mohamed Jabaly
Producer KriStine Ann Skaret
Producer & Impact producer Sarah Winge-Sørensen
Year of Production 2023
Length 93 minutes

Cinematographer Mohamed Jabaly
Editor Erland Edenholm
Story consultant & supervising editor Anne Fabini
Composer Gaute Barlindhaug
Sound design Anna Nilsson - Filmreaktor
Color Grade & finishing Fredrik Harreschou - Flint

In Co-production with
Mohamed Jabaly for Jabali Film
Anad Abdelwahab & Muhammad Refaat for Al Jazeera
Executive Producers
Mohanad Yaqubi
Esther van Messel
Anne Fabini

Contact Info

International Sales
First Hand Films

International Festival Distribution
Elisabeth Aalmo

Norwegian Festivals & Sales
Sarah Winge-Sørensen

Festival Screenings ​

  • IDFA Festival, International Competition, Nov 2023, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Opening film, Trømsø International Film Festival, Jan 2024, Tromsø, Norway
  • Göteborg Film Festival, in competition for Dragon Award Best Nordic Documentary, Jan 2024 Göteborg, Sweden
  • Ismailia International Film Festival, Official Competition - Documentary, Feb 2024, Ismailia, Egypt
  • Human International Film festival, Norwegian Competition, March 2024, Oslo, Norway
  • Opening film, West Nordic International Film Festival, March 2024, Ålesund, Norway
  • FIFDH Geneva, In Competition – Creative Documentaries, March 2024, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Nordic Palestinian Film Festival, March 2024, selected cities, Sweden
  • Docville, March 2024, Leuven, Belgium
  • One World International Human Rights Film Festival, March 2024, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Arabic Film Days, April 2024, Oslo, Norway
  • Liberation DocFest Bangladesh, April 2024, Dhaka, Bangaldesh
  • Palestinian Film Festival Kuwait, April 2024, Kuwait
  • ALFILM, the Arab Film Festival of Berlin, April 2024, Berlin Germany
  • HOT DOCS, April 2024, Toronto, Canada
  • DOXA, in competition Feature Documentary, May 2024, Vancouver, Canada
  • Subversive Festival, May 2024, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Krakow Film festival, International Documentary Competition, May 2024, Krakow, Poland
  • Sheffield DocFest, June 2024, Sheffield, UK


  • IDFA Award for the Best Directing in the International Competition, 2023
  • Gilda Vieira de Mello Prize in Creative Documentary, FIFDH Genève 2024
  • The National Lottery Audience Award, Docville 2024
  • Best film, international competition, One World International Human Rights Film Festival, Prague, 2024


  • In competition for the Dragon Award Best Nordic Documentary, Göteborg Film Festival, Sweden
  • Official Competition - Documentary, Ismailia International Film Festival, Egypt
  • Norwegian Competition, Human International Film festival, Norway
  • In competition Feature Documentary, DOXA, Canada
  • International Documentary Competition, Krakow Film Festival, Poland