Belgium / Netherlands, 2016 (MIFF 2017, Documentaries,Animals)

Director: Marco de Stefanis


The only zoo in the Occupied Territories lost many of its animals in the last intifada; now its cheerfully determined vet is on a mission to see giraffes return to Palestine.

Veterinarian and taxidermist Dr Sami Khadr has an understated but undeniable sense of humour, even in the face of a seemingly insurmountable problem: he needs to convince the burghers of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) that his little animal park in the confined, walled-off city of Qalqilya, on the contested Israeli–West Bank border, is fit for the world's tallest mammal!

Beloved by locals as an oasis of respite in a political (and sometimes literal) minefield, this unexpected zoo and natural history museum is a symbol of hope and cooperation that has survived years of mayhem and deprivation. But to house a giraffe, it will need to become so much more. With a light touch and an eye for the droll, Dutch documentarian Marco de Stefanis charts Dr Sami's journey through the bureaucracy and barriers as he tries to meet the EAZA's minimum standards, but with limited finances, untrained staff and a war-ravaged locale, he's got his work cut out for him.

As a portrait of an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation, Waiting for Giraffes is charming; as a real-life allegory of the Israeli–Palestinian predicament, it's unique.

See also...

Night After the Revolution

Internationally, humanists recoiled from the death pronouncement by Ayatollah Khomeini on Salman Rushdie. This confronting documentary begins with footage of Iranian protests in Amsterdam surrounding ... More »


Despite what Nike keeps telling everyone, it's perfectly OK to lose a ball game. The Other Final—an exceptionally funny, good natured, cheer-along documentary—celebrates the greater part of the world ... More »


A scathing but subtle attack upon the time-honoured British bloodsport institution of the fox hunt. Opting to do without a judgmental narration, director Niek Koppen allows the subjects of his powerfu... More »


"Loznitsa's editing and choice of material … depicts both the chaos and the raw power of mass demonstration." – Cinema Scope ... August 1991: the Soviet Union is on the verge of collapse. After a deca... More »


Lyrical Nitrate is a compilation of film fragments dating from the period 1905-1915. They originate from the collection of films of Jean Desmet, the first film distributor, which is currently being pr... More »


A couple of years ago, distinguished filmmaker Johan van der Keuken and his wife and collaborator Noshka van der Lely visited Kerala, a coastal province in southwestern India. There he conceived and r... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director