The Fabulous Picture Show

The Promise

A look at post-war Palestine and Israeli independence through the eyes of a British soldier serving in the territory.

Peter Kosminsky’s epic drama The Promise explosively juxtaposes the events and issues from the formation of Israel with current events.

When 18-year-old Londoner Erin (Claire Foy) is dragged by her mother (Holly Aird) to a hospital to see her dying grandfather Len, she is disgusted by how old and decrepit he is – until she finds his old diary and begins to learn of his exploits in the Second World War.

Amanda Palmer and Peter Kosminsky

As Erin travels with her best friend for a summer holiday in Israel, she learns how the young Len saw military service as a paratrooper, taking part in the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before moving on to enforce the British Mandate in Palestine.

The diary allows Kosminsky to compare the events of the 1940s with those in the 21st century.

As Erin discovers disturbing truths about Len’s time in Palestine, and some of the atrocities he witnessed during the birth of Israel, she also witnesses the complexities of life for both Jews and Arabs in the Middle East today, and ultimately finds herself retracing Len’s steps in order to fulfill a promise he made.

Based on years of research and playing out over six hours of TV, The Promise has proved controversial wherever it has been shown, provoking howls of outrage from the British pro-Israeli press, and sparking a small demonstration in France. 

Peter Kosminsky joins Amanda Palmer, Al Jazeera’s head of entertainment, for one of the most contentious (and lively) Q&As we have ever had.

Elite Squad 2

Elite Squad 2

Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha has successfully straddled the worlds of documentary (including the masterful and compassionate Bus 174, the retro-perfect verite of Garapa) and narrative features (winning the Berlin Film Festival’s top prize in 2008 with Elite Squad). 

He also makes films that many people want to see, and his latest, Elite Squad 2, a politically charged sequel, has become the most successful Brazilian film ever. 

Padilha tells FPS how he fuses his filmmaking talent to his commitment to social change to try and humanise the problems facing Brazil today.

Souleymane Cisse

Souleymane Cisse

The dean of living African filmmakers, Mali’s Souleymane Cisse, has for over three decades been making accessible, entertaining features that also tackle everyday issues – many of them previously considered taboo – facing people during this era of rapid change.

Educated in Moscow during the age of Socialist Realism, Cisse returned home to unleash The Young Girl (1975), about a young Muslim girl who is disowned by her family after she falls pregnant. 

He followed this with films like Work (1980), about a manager who tries to improve conditions in a textile factory, and The Wind (1983), portraying disgruntled youth rising up against a corrupt education system.

He speaks to FPS from the Dubai Film Festival, where he recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tales of the Night

Tales of the Night

There is regular “charming”, and then there is “insanely ultra-charming” – French animator Michel Ocelot definitely makes films that are the latter. 

Devoid of saccharine, his distinctive, colourful style complements timeless stories that appeal to all age groups. 

For his latest film, Tales of the Night, Ocelot almost reluctantly adopted the current rage for 3-D animation. 

But, as he tells FPS, he does it his own way – a hybrid style he describes as “Flat 3-D.”

It all makes for a unique – and charming – cinematic experience.

This episode of The Fabulous Picture Show can be seen from Friday, February 3 at the following times GMT: Friday: 1930; Saturday: 1430; Sunday: 0430; Monday: 0830.