- IDFA Festival 2023, International Competition, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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.
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
Esther van Messel
First Hand Films
International Festival Distribution
Norwegian Festivals & Sales