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Movie Critic Article: The Struggle for Acceptance

"Denying democracy and freedom to a national minority leads to the denial of democracy and freedom to all the country's inhabitants. It is impossible to portion out democracy and freedom." Tawfik Toubi, an Arab communist born in Haifa and the last surviving member of the 1949 Knesset.

"In November 2005, Ahmed Khatib, a twelve-year-old Palestinian boy from the Jenin refugee camp, was accidentally killed by an Israeli soldier. Despite his grief, the boy's father Ismael consented to donate his son's organs to several Israeli children. Thanks to this act of humanity, four of those children, each from a different part of Israeli society, are alive today. The Heart of Jenin explores the legacy of Ismael's decision during the two years following his son's death." Synopsis of the German movie The Heart of Jenin 2008.


Abu-Assad and film crew Cannes 05/22/2013
In spite of all the odds and the various incidents in which bold steps to wave a joint flag were exploited to create a fake appearance of coexistence behind which daily massacres of civilians were carried out, Israeli-Arab coexistence is still a solid dream that is addressed by dozens of literary works, fine arts products and movies that explore the right of Palestine to exist as an independent self-governing nation as well as the right of Palestinians living inside Israel to have "..complete equality of social and political rights.." as per the Declaration of Independence of Israel as a democratic country in1948. But, as yet, a long road has to be traveled and hope needs to be nourished and kept alive as, according to a survey published in Haaretz in April 2013, one out of every two Jewish young people in Israel believes Arabs should not have rights equal to those of Jews. About 56 percent of them believe it is not necessary for Arabs to be allowed to be elected to the Knesset. The term Israeli-Arab which recalls the term 'negro' in the US society, before Afro-Americans attained equal rights (though not equal opportunity), does not seem to be short-lived in a country that does not seem to have an inclusive dream!
Click here for A Compilation of Films and Videos that examine the aspects of the Arab/Israeli conflict. 
Notable recent US movies on tolerance and coexistence are: Crash 2004, Remember the Titans 2000, Far from Heaven 2002.  
This article is dedicated to highlight two award-winning movies examining the human condition in this conflict-stricken environs.

Omar 2012, Palestine 

Omar is a political thriller interwoven with a story of trust and betrayal as two lovers are torn apart by Israel's secret police and Palestinian "freedom fighters" which received a standing ovation at the Cannes film festival on Monday (May 20/13) and broke new ground as the first film fully funded by the Palestinian cinema industry. Hany Abu-Assad, the filmmaker is known for the 2005 award-winning film Paradise Now.

The Two Lovers in Omar


In the following clip, Abu-Assad tells The Hollywood Reporter why he wanted to make a film about three Palestinian childhood friends. The Israel-born director also added, "As filmmakers, we witness our history. I don't want to take the responsibility of changing minds, but my job is to let the audience in an entertaining way live in a very difficult situation."


 

 

Ajami (2009), Israel 

Ajami was written and directed by Scandar Copti (a Palestinian, born and raised in Yafa) and Yaron Shani (a Jewish Israeli), Ajami explores five different stories set in an actual impoverished Christian-and-Muslim Arab neighborhood of the Tel Aviv - Jaffa metropolis, called Ajami. The many characters played by non-professional actors lend the story the feel of a documentary. The Arab characters speak Arabic among themselves, the Jewish characters speak Hebrew among themselves, and scenes with both Arab and Jewish characters are a naturalistic portrait of characters using both languages, as they would in real life. The film was co-produced by FrenchGerman and Israeli companies – Inosan ProductionsTwenty Twenty VisionIsrael Film FundMedienboard Berlin-BrandenburgZDFArteWorld Cinema Fund.

Ajami was the first predominantly Arabic-language film submitted by Israel for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and it was nominated for the award. It lost to El secreto de sus ojos (Argentina). It was the third year in a row that an Israeli film was nominated for an Academy Award.

In Israel the film was very well received, and won the Ophir Award for Best Film, defeating Golden Lion Award-winner Lebanon. It has been compared to Pier Paolo Pasolini's early films, and to more recent crime films such as City of God and Gomorra.

Ajami was nominated and/or won several awards worldwide: Caméra d'Or - Special Mention (Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani) (won) at Cannes Film Festival, Best Full-Length Feature (won) Jerusalem Film Festival, European Film Academy Discovery (nominated) European Film Awards, Foreign Language Film (nominated) 82nd Academy Awards (Oscar). 

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