Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Other Israel Film Festival Spotlight: The Field

I’m delighted to be returning for the sixth time to cover the Other Israel Film Festival, which features a diverse crop of Israeli and Palestinian cinema and is hosted by the JCC Manhattan. The 11th Annual Other Israel Film Festival takes place November 2nd-9th, 2017.

The Field
Directed by Mordechai Vardi
Festival Information

Being open to dialogue is one of the first steps towards coexistence. That’s a concept brought to life in this exploration of the Palestinian Center for Nonviolence in Gush Etzion, founded by Ali Abu Awwad as a place for Palestinians to interact with Israeli settlers. They talk about what has brought them to where they are, speaking in Hebrew or English depending on the audience they are addressing. They dissect the language that they use, like describing a terrorist as “Palestinian,” and establish a field together in memory of three local Israeli settlers who were killed in 2014. They don’t ignore hard questions, like those about the danger of suicide bombers and the reality of the occupation, and acknowledge their responsibility, including the settlers’ point that there are rabbis who support the incitement of hate against Palestinians and must be condemned. “We must believe in the truth of both peoples” is the film’s signature line, and its most memorable scene finds both groups beginning a fast together, with one rabbi shouting “Allahu Akbar” before his own Hebrew proclamation that God is great. It’s clear that there is much still to be accomplished and that this is only a small segment of the population, but this film highlights important and inspiring work that is being done by those with the most open of minds in a place not typically suited to such ideas.

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