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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.