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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Israeli film takes no sides in conflict

Yuval Adler, Shhadi Maryee and Tsahi Halevi in Venice (Photo: Ofer Adler)
Yuval Adler, Shhadi Maryee and Tsahi Halevi in Venice (Photo: Ofer Adler)

Director Yuval Adler, Palestinian co-writer Ali Waked win praise for ‘Bethlehem,’ which takes street view of Middle East conflict from people on both sides and made its world premiere at Venice Film Festival

Israeli director Yuval Adler and Palestinian co-writer Ali Waked say they have won praise for their film “Bethlehem,” which takes a street view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, from people on both sides – for them evidence the film succeeded in not pressing an agenda.
“People are going crazy for this film,” Adler said in an interview. “A lot of people say to us, even young people, that ‘This is the first time I see a movie that doesn’t preach to me, that doesn’t take sides, that doesn’t show us as bad or them as bad.’”
Adler called the reception in media and industry screenings in Israel “amazing.” ”Bethlehem” has yet to be released in Israeli theaters, and made its world premiere Friday at the Venice Film Festival.
Despite intense coverage of the ongoing conflict by the world’s media, Adler believes they have found a vacuum that has been largely overlooked: How Israel recruits and runs Palestinian informants and more specifically the human relationship that forms between the agents and informants. The filmmakers’ axiom, Adler said, was to tell a balanced story.
“I wanted to do a story about the inner workings of what we all see in the news, and we don’t really understand. What people on the street live on both sides, people who are living in the extreme center of the conflict, and to show what their lives are about,” Adler said.
Waked, a long-time Palestinian affairs correspondent for Israeli website Ynet, had previously refused many directors’ offers to collaborate on films about the conflict, but said it was Adler’s lack of a political agenda that persuaded him to sign on to the project.
“The agenda of focusing on the simple people in between the big headlines made me want to be part of this project,” Waked said.