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Watermelon Pictures: A New Frontier for Palestinian Representation in Film

Spearheaded by Alana Hadid

In an industry often criticized for its silence on injustices, the Hadids stand out as vocal advocates for a Free Palestine. This month, Alana Hadid, the elder half-sibling of models Bella, Gigi, and Anwar, has recently assumed the role of creative director at the newly established Watermelon Pictures– a film production and distribution label that will focus on “cultural representation and social advocacy, and be dedicated to amplifying the voices of underrepresented filmmakers across the globe,” as per the company’s website. 

Watermelon Pictures, a proudly Palestinian-owned enterprise, is set to use film and television to imagine a better and more inclusive world. The debut project of Watermelon Pictures is the documentary Walled Off, directed by Vin Arfuso. 

The documentary sheds light on The Walled Off Hotel, a boutique establishment located in Palestine’s West Bank, specifically in Bethlehem, known as the biblical birthplace of Jesus, and conceptualized by renowned street artist Banksy. The hotel was initially established by the street artist to critique Israel’s ongoing violence against Palestinians. Banksy has adorned the barrier, stretching over 443 miles, with several artworks denouncing Israeli violence, and the Walled Off Hotel proudly boasts offering the self-proclaimed “worst view in the world,” looking out onto a concrete wall that represents decades of occupation and apartheid. 

Opening its doors in 2017, coinciding with the 100-year anniversary of Britain’s Balfour Declaration, the beginning of British colonialism in Palestine and an act that shifted the course of Palestinian history, paving the way for the eventual Israeli occupation, the hotel became a focal point. Banksy even hosted a satirical “apology” tea party for Palestinians, timed with the United Kingdom’s formal celebration of its century-old proclamation. 

Co-produced by Alana’s younger half brother, model and musician Anwar Hadid, alongside Roger Waters of Pink cause, who has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian stance, and Kweku Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, Walled Off is slated for release in select theaters and digital platforms on May 3.

Expressing the company’s mission, Hadid emphasizes its role as a sanctuary for sidelined voices yearning for creative expression. Through their film releases, Watermelon Pictures seeks to both enlighten and inspire global audiences to confront injustice. The brand identity of Watermelon Pictures is deeply intertwined with the resilience of Palestinian culture, symbolized by the iconic fruit reflecting the red, green, black, and white colors of the Palestinian flag.

“Our aim is to provide a safe haven for excluded voices striving for creative resistance,” explains Alana. “Through our film releases, we endeavor to educate and empower audiences worldwide to stand up against injustice.”

The Hadid sisters have been outspoken about Israel’s war on Gaza, which has claimed the lives of over 33,000 Palestinians since October 7. Alana, in particular, has called for a ceasefire during a speech at the Washington march for Gaza in January and has utilized her social media platforms to raise awareness about the ongoing genocide in Palestine.

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