Fiction | 1982 | COLOR | 72' | O.V. ARABIC/ENGLISH/HEBREW

Return to Haifa, directed by Iraqi director Kassem Hawal in 1982 is often considered to be the "first Palestinian film". It is based on the 1969 novella of the same name written by Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani.

The film tells the story of Safia and Saeed, who are forced by gunfire and artillery to leave their 5-month-old son Khaldoun in the city of Haifa when they are expelled in April 1948. Twenty years later, with the 1967 war and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the couple is able to travel to Haifa. They discover that Khaldoun, now Dov, was adopted by Jewish immigrants arriving in 1948, and – now 20 years old – has recently enlisted in the Israeli army


The Palestinian city of Haifa wasn’t expecting anything despite its being enveloped by an obscure tension. Suddenly, shelling came from the east, from the mountains of Carmel. The shells flew though the midst of the city and poured into its Arab quarters. The streets of Haifa turned to chaos as terror spread in the city, which closed its shops and the windows of its houses. That happened on the 21st of April. 1948. Safia who had left her five – month old son Khaldoun, was searching for her husband Saeed amidst a surging flood of human beings. When she found him near the port, they returned home, panic- striken, in order to rescue their son. Their attempt was in vain, the shells and the British soldiers who blockaded the street hindered them from getting there. Twenty years later, after the June war of 1967, the Zionist occupation forces permitted families to visit their homes. Safia and Saeed returned to Haifa to find their son Khaldoun, now called Doff, enrolled in the Israeli reserve forces. He had been adopted by a childless Jewish family that had immigrated to Palestine in 1948. Who is the real Mother? Who is the real father ? What is a homeland ? and .. What is the way to return to Haifa .. to Palestine?