The collection spans the history of Palestinian filmmaking and includes both classic and obscure films from most acclaimed Palestinian filmmakers over the past thirty years. The collection provides a mine of information about the history and the variegated life experiences of Palestinians, as well as invaluable testimony to what Dabashi has called "the emergence of one of the most exciting national cinemas in recent memory."
Professor Dabashi began to compile Palestinian films when he was preparing to teach a course on transnational cinema at Columbia University in the late 1980s. The effort took him to Palestinian camps in Beirut, Damascus, Amman, and elsewhere, and he was eventually able to enlist the help of many other dedicated filmmakers (Michel Khleifi, Hany Abu Assad, May Masri, Annemarie Jacir), scholars (the late Edward Said, Joseph Massad, Rashid Khalidi), and directors of film festivals (Richard Pena, Irene Bignardi) in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. The journey culminated in the organization of the first Palestinian film festival in New York in 2003 at Columbia University (which was curated by Annemarie Jacir), the publication of Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema (Verso 2006), a volume edited by Professor Dabashi, and the subsequent establishment of Dreams of a Nation, an online database of Palestinian cinema that uniquely attempts to create an archive of materials on Palestinian cinema in the United States.