Life is Beautiful - Al Haya Helwa

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An inspiring documentary that follows Mohamed Jabaly's life in limbo, caught between the dangers of Gaza and bureaucratic challenges in Norway. Through his video diary, we get a story that is both touching, humorous, and poetic.

Mohamed, a young Palestinian filmmaker, is invited to Tromsø by festival director Hermann Greuel to collaborate with the Nordic Youth Film Festival. The border between Egypt and Gaza closes during his stay, preventing his return. He finds himself in a bureaucratic squeeze and gets stuck in Tromsø. This marks the beginning of a seven-year struggle against both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board (UNE). We follow Mohamed's life in exile in Tromsø. With a joyful personality and determination, he quickly forms strong bonds with his host family and others he encounters. He is warmly welcomed by the filmmaking community at Tvibit while waiting for his visa application to be processed.

Eventually, the answer arrives: he is denied a visa because he cannot prove he is a filmmaker. The reasoning is that he lacks formal film education, despite already being a recognized filmmaker with the award-winning documentary Ambulance, filmed in Gaza while he worked on an ambulance in 2014.

The film's title, Life is Beautiful, may seem peculiar considering the bleak living conditions of the Palestinian people, but for the director, it is both a fundamental perspective on life and a cause worth fighting for - a fight for human freedom and a fight for hope. Jabaly was awarded the prize for best director at the prestigious documentary film festival IDFA in 2023.


Mohamed Jabaly is a Palestinian filmmaker, producer, and artist from Gaza City. He came to Norway in 2014 and has made a name for himself in the international film industry. His first full-length documentary, Ambulance, has been shown at several of the world's largest film festivals and has won several awards.


2016 Ambulance

Min Festival


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