News / Arts & Entertainment

Venice Festival Films Portray Hope, Hurdles for Jewish-Palestinian Ties

Director Amos Gitai (L) poses with actress Yuval Scharf during a photocall for the movie
Director Amos Gitai (L) poses with actress Yuval Scharf during a photocall for the movie "Ana Arabia" during the 70th Venice Film Festival in Venice Sept. 3, 2013.
Reuters
In Amos Gitai's film Ana Arabia, premiered in Venice this week, a Palestinian whose late wife was an Auschwitz survivor and Muslim convert treks to Arab cities to find a dentist instead of one five minutes away in Tel Aviv.

In Bethlehem, the work of an Israeli director and Palestinian screenwriter, an Israeli Shin Bet secret service agent uses a young Palestinian boy as an informant with tragic consequences, mostly because they have become close friends.

The two Israeli films shown at the Venice Film Festival depict Israelis and Palestinians married or working closely together. But alongside these glimmers of hope lie deep misunderstandings and enmities that reinforce the impression of an unbridgeable divide.
 
Gitai's Ana Arabia is in competition for the top Venice awards, the Golden Lions, to be awarded on Saturday. Yuval Adler's Bethlehem is being screened out of competition.
 
Gitai, who has made some 80 feature films and shorts over four decades, said he was drawn to the true story of a Polish Auschwitz survivor living with her Arab husband in a village on the outskirts of Tel Aviv as a way to undermine stereotypes and show the need to embrace diversity.
 
The film is made from a single 81-minute shot, uncut. The camera trails an Israeli journalist called Yael, played by Sarah Adler, walking through alleyways and into houses and a garden that had been reclaimed by the dead Jewish-Muslim woman from a stone-and-rubble-strewn plot.

 Yael interviews the woman's husband Youssef, who says his family has lived in the area for 150 years, and talks to her children and relatives about her and their lives.
 
One of them tells her that even though Palestinians provide the backbone of manual labor in Israel, they are treated worse than newly arrived immigrant Russian Jews.
 
"t's really a story of Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Israelis and I think that my personal question to this very bloody Middle East, very savage and brutal Middle East, is that we can instill relations of people from different origins, different beliefs, even not agreeing with each other necessarily,'' Gitai said.
 
He said the decision to film everything uncut in a single shot symbolized the future possibility of an undivided society.
 
"There Will Be Blood" link
 
Adler's Bethlehem stands in contrast to Ana Arabia, with trade publication Variety describing it as "a tightly wound clock-ticking thriller''.
 
 Director Adler said the landscape and tone was inspired by the Daniel Day-Lewis vehicle There Will Be Blood about the early days of the oil boom in America.
 
 "I'll tell you something I like about 'There Will Be Blood'. First of all is the exteriors, this nature ... so we shot in this stony landscape,'' he said in a joint interview with the film's screenwriter, Palestinian journalist Ali Waked.
 
The main characters are the Shin Bet agent Razi, his teenaged informant Sanfur and operatives from the Islamic militant al-Aqsa Brigades and Hamas.
 
Both militant groups agreed to provide technical advice on their operations in order to help make the film more authentic, "as long as they are sure we are telling the story as it is, without any agenda to show them bad or good'', Waked said.
 
"The secret service guys were the hardest to get,'' said Adler.
 
It pays off in the film's most gripping scene, where the informant's militant brother is holed up in a Palestinian house, with an Israeli patrol outside set on nabbing or killing him. The whole neighborhood shows up to stone the Israelis and destroy their vehicles.
 
 "I think that films about the conflict, we have plenty. We wanted the new angle that ... there is no black and white in this conflict,'' said Waked, who covered Palestinian affairs for Israeli Internet site Ynet for 11 years.
 
 "For me it was much easier to ... describe Israelis as victims or Palestinians as the only victims. We made the hard choice to focus on the grey.''   

You May Like

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”