20 percent of Israel’s population is Arab. Muslim, Bedouin, Christian, Druze, and Circassians from different ethnic, religious, cultural and social backgrounds are defined collectively as Arab Citizens of Israel. Through a week-long festival of award-winning films, guest filmmakers, panel discussions, special gala events & receptions, photography exhibits, musical performances and much more, OTHER ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL will illuminate the lives of the Arab Citizens of Israel who are rarely seen outside the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
OTHER ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL is dedicated to showcasing the life, images, voices, and stories of Arabs within Israeli society and create a cultural platform to further awareness and challenge conventions. The Festival will screen 18-20 narrative features, documentaries and short films. In addition, there will be panel discussions, post screening question & answer sessions and other numerous opportunities to meet with and learn from the filmmakers and participants.
“This festival will be unique – it is not about the conflict – it is not about taking sides – this festival is about people,” states Festival Founder Carole Zabar. “Through the Festival, Arab Israelis who have long been a part of Israel’s art and film scene will bring Israeli Arab perspectives and culture to an audience that has never heard this voice before. This is a unique opportunity to showcase the accomplishments of Israeli Arabs and for festival goers to meet Arab actors and directors as well as the Jewish Israelis with whom they work and colaborate with great success.”
During the 2007 Jerusalem International Film Festival (July 5-14), the OTHER ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL will participate in a juried competition and will present the OTHER ISRAEL AWARD to a film that through creative use of the medium furthers awareness and challenges conventions about the Arab citizens of Israel. Six films will compete in Jerusalem with the winning film being screened in New York as part of the OTHER ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL. The films competing in this category are: Roads; Seven Days in Deer Bolos; Slim Peace; Sons of Sakhnin United; Crossing Borders and On Hold.
Among the groups supporting this unique Israeli Arab festival are numerous US based Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. These predominantly Jewish organizations are supporting this non-Jewish event as they share the common goal of preserving the welfare of Israel while sustaining a peaceful existence and the long-term stability of the democratic Jewish state. Israel’s Declaration of Independence promises equality for all its citizens, economically, educationally and socially– Jews and Arabs alike. Ultimately, empowering Israeli Arab citizens to become more involved in the process that affects their daily lives as well as educate the American Jewish community on majority-minority relations in Israel. This support is a collective effort to promote co-existence between Arabs and Jews. And what better tool than the all encompassing medium of film to change perception, evoke emotion and unite all the people of Israel.
The schedule of films, programs, guests and participants of the OTHER ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL are scheduled to be announced later this summer. However, a few sidebar programs have already been locked in:
· Tal Adler Photographic Exhibit, UNRECOGNIZED – A slides presentation from leading Israeli artist Tal Adler who decided to start this project to trigger a social change. Through a clever use of artistic media, educational and social tools, Unrecognized brings the story of the unrecognized Bedouin settlements of the Negev to the attention of wider audiences.
· DAM (Da Arabian MC) – A group of Arab rappers from Lud will perform and speak about their work, as well as a presentation of screen excerpts from a new documentary by director Jackie Salloum, Sling Shot Hip Hop, that focuses on the Arab hip-hop scene, following Arab rappers living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel. It aims to spotlight alternative voices of resistance within the Palestinian struggle and explore the role their music plays within their social, political and personal lives.
· Kids With Cameras – A photographic exhibit of the works of 12 children, Jewish and Arab living in Jerusalem. Presented during the festival at the JCC of Manhattan.
For more information on the OTHER ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL, please visit the web site at www.otherisrael.org.