Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (PhD)

Degree Level



Graduate School


Mohja Kahf

Committee Member

Ted Swedenburg

Second Committee Member

Keith Booker


Social sciences, Communication and the arts, Accented cinema, Middle Eastern film, Palestine, Palestinian film, Transnational cinema, Transnational film production


This dissertation employs a comprehensive approach to analyze the cinematic accent of feature length, fictional Palestinian cinema and offers concrete criteria to define the genre of Palestinian fictional film that go beyond traditional, nation-centered approaches to defining films. Employing Arjun Appardurai’s concepts of financescapes, technoscapes, mediascapes, ethnoscapes, and ideoscapes, I analyze the filmic accent of six Palestinian filmmakers: Michel Khleifi, Rashid Masharawi, Ali Nassar, Elia Suleiman, Hany Abu Assad, and Annemarie Jacir. After a detailed examination of each filmmaker’s body of work, I examine the trends that occur across the genre that have the greatest impact on the Palestinian filmic accent and that differentiate the genre of Palestinian film from that of accented cinema more generally. These trends include the interstitial nature of Palestinian fictional filmmaking, the importance of relationships between Palestinian filmmakers, the seeming necessity of travel to the education and training of the directors, and the invasive nature of the Israeli occupation on any film made in or about the West Bank or Gaza. My analysis identifies a thematic shift within the genre from a focus on collective and nationalist themes to themes that center upon individual experiences of occupation. While other scholars argue this shift is the result of new directors entering the genre, my analysis identifies this trend within the corpus of individual directors whose work spans the entirety of the Palestinian fictional film genre, indicating this shift is the result of a change in accent rather than the result of the appearance of new directors. By examining both the individual accent of Palestinian filmmakers and the regional accent of Palestinian fictional film, I deduce that the thematic shift from collective to individual experiences is accompanied by a move toward increased reliance on Palestinian funding and personnel for these cinematic projects and increases in the availability of these films to Palestinians living in Israel proper as well as those living in the West Bank and Gaza. From this information, I have concluded that Palestinian fictional cinema is in the process of a significant change in accent, indicating that the accent of a regional cinema changes over time in addition to changing across areas and individuals, which Naficy has previously noted.