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 "Ana Arabia" during the 70th Venice Film Festival in Venice Sept. 3, 2013.
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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.