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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."