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Festival al filmului israelian la New York

de (6-12-2009)

It is a well known fact among my friends that I have a strong passion for cultural/artistic experiences and that I am an advocate for peace. In that light, I was invited to attend The Third Annual Other Israel Film Festival which was graciously hosted by Carole Zabar and The Jewish Community Center located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This event, anticipated by so many, took place between November 12-19, 2009.

It was a great pleasure to meet, Carole Zabar, the founder of the film festival. Her voice was clear, strong, and loving as she frequently spoke throughout the presentations promoting friendly dialogs, collaboration, and peace between the two nations. Carole Zabar’s hard work and passion for this cause sends a wonderful and inspiring message. She is definitely a people’s person. The words of gratitude and hugs were pouring from many.

The 2009 festival presented films by several of the country’s top Arab and Jewish filmmakers including documentaries and dramas, as well as episodes of one of the most talked-about TV comedies in Israel. The screenings were enhanced by additional events.

The first thing that greeted us beyond the point of high security doormen as we entered the JCC lobby, was an exhibition of large photographs that sensibly depicted life of Arabs in Israel and Palestine. It was to my surprise to discover that the talented artist, Natan Dvir, has Romanian roots as I do and therefore, we continued to converse in Romanian about his photography, his art studio, and his particular exhibition as part of this festival. I said to myself that artists with Romanian roots can be found even in the most unexpected places.

The audience had the occasion to hear the youthful and energetic Palestinian-Israeli hip-hop star from Ramlah, Sameh Zakout, a.k.a. SAZ in a concert and at a panel presentation. I was lucky enough to talk with him personally about his message to the world. His songs are about Palestinian suffering, desire for justice, and hope for a better world. His face was radiant and filled with a pleasant energy as he proudly announced that he felt lucky and blessed to have been born in a place where he had the opportunity to make a peaceful difference in the world through his music.

The festival had a successful start with the movie, „Jaffa”, a love story directed by the Israeli-Jewish filmmaker Keren Yedaya, who mixed the characters and cast in a conscious and purposeful way. The film featured some of the country’s most appreciated performers.

It was very interesting to be exposed to different aspects of the Arab culture from the various themes presented in the several events at the festival. There were over a dozen movies and to my regret, I did not have the ability to attend them all.

In my observation, a common thread skilfully woven through the tapestry of the festival was the theme of challenge and resilience.

In „Badal”, the director Ibtisam Mara’na describes the strains and stresses of an arranged marriage within her own family. Package deal of marriages of two couples, usually of siblings, is a practice of Muslim tradition not known by all.

„Arab Labor” by director Roni Ninio, paints a captivating satire where a married journalist who is the father of a young daughter struggles while he is caught between the conflict of his inner wish to become liked by his audience, his family, and the outside pressures of society.

The famous news anchor Chaim Yavin was available at the festival for a controversial dialog after the presentation of his” ID Blues”, which portrays different Arabs living in Israel with their own stresses of life, aspects of history, and the culture of Arab society within Israel.

In the film „The Invisible”, Film director Gil Karni shows the determination of an army veteran to obtain government recognition and public services for his neglected home village Arab al-Na’in. The film „SAZ- The Palestinian Rapper for Change”, by the same director, depicts the fight through the words of a young music artist to inspire better human conditions in his native land.

„Forever Scared”, directed by Dorit Zimbalist, shows the Israeli-Arab writer/columnist Sayed Kashua as an outsider, who wherever he goes never feels that he belongs.

In the film „Voices from El Sayed”, director Oded Adomi Leshem, shows a dramatic change of a Bedouin community that has the largest percentage of deaf people in the world.

We had the opportunity to see another brilIiant acting performace by actor Mohammad Bakri in „Laila’s Birthday” directed by Rashid Masharawi. The movie reflects a stressful day in the life of a judge who in order to survive and support his family becomes a taxi driver.

A triumphant conclusion of the festival was achieved with the heart warming movie „Zahara”. It rendered a personal and intimate narrative of its director Mohammad Bakri and his family. He was available for a lively dialog with the audience, after which everyone had the chance to delight one more time in delicacies, conversation, and hugs as the event was getting ready for its sunset.

It was an honor and pleasure to meet the actor and film director Mohammad Bakri, for the first time. It felt great to be able to thank him personally for his „breathtaking cinematography”, unique sensible style that touches deeply the human soul, artistic creativity, talent, efforts and for his message of love and peace to the world. His charming presence and intriguing voice, as well as his sense of humor and wit made his participation at different events one of the highlights of the festival. Supporting his message and just as charming was one of his sons, Ziad Bakri, who is an actor and a film director in his own right.( Director, „Ajameion” )

Among the eager audience at the festival were a mixture of people from various ethnic backgrounds, religions, races, ages, and occupations. There were indeed very interesting dialogs that took place between the actors, directors and the audience. Some of the questions were complex with simple and charming answers, other questions were simple with unexpected and right to the core truthful answers. The audience laughed and cried. Some of them declared a personal transformation towards a better understanding of human conditions, and desire to embrace all people with love from that day forward.

Some of the events were followed by hors d’oeuvre and drinks. Tables were decorated in an artistic fashion with fresh cut exotic flowers and fresh wheatgrass. Under dim lights, people were talking and smiling while exchanging ideas in a vivacious way. It was a reminder for me of how much art has an educational, joyful, and peaceful effect in people’s lives. Their demeanor and warmth as well as the whole ambiance created a week to remember with pleasant nostalgia. Many were sad at the end of the festival wishing it would have lasted longer. It was hard saying good bye. Hugs and tears…seeds of peace. You had to be there, as at times words are not sufficent to convey the high quality and emotions of such a complex event.

Photographs at the last event were taken by the talented Judah S. Harris. (http://judahsharris.paradepro.com)

I thank him for his permission to publish them as well as all those who contributed and were part of the festival.

See you next year at the festival, INSHALLAH !

PEACE, SELAM, SHALOM, PACE !

Adela-Adriana Moscu

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  • Dan Pohic: (6-12-2009 la 00:00)

    Hello,

    I warmly recommend the best two israeli movies I saw: „Levanon” and „Adjameh” ( Adjameh is a neighbourhood in Jaffa/Yaffo)

    Adjameh is the israeli nominated movie for Oscar and it was shot durind a seven years period.A very complex and original movie.

    Levanon is a piece of high quality art and you can find it on the Internet.

    The israeli cinematography reached it’s top due to bigger budgets and israeli producers love for creation not only for money.

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