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LEKHA SHANKAR


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Palestine Film that created Huge controversy in Israel, will be Screened at Venice Festival,Today

                   

 

                       

                           

 

                       Palestinian Director SUHA ARRAF’s controversial Debut Film  

                     ‘VILLA TOUMA’ will be premiered at the Venice Festival, Today

 

‘VILLA TOUMA’, by Israel-based Palestine film-maker SUHA ARRAF, is the film that will be in the news, when it’s premiered at the Venice Film Festival, TODAY.

Suha is  the script-writer of  much-acclaimed films like ‘Syrian Bride’ and ‘Lemon Tree’ ,which were screened at many festivals, and where she worked in close collaboration with Israeli film-maker Eran Riklis.

Villa Touma’ is her debut directorial film, where the Haifa-based Palestinian-Israeli film-maker got funds from the Israel Film Fund, to make the movie.

When the film got selected to many festivals and was classified as a ‘Palestine’ film, the Israel Culture Ministry protested, and ordered  that it be called an ‘Israel film, as the funding came from Israel.

Suha  refused,  calling it totally a ‘Palestine’ film .

“ From the day I was born I know of my Palestinian identity. I carry an Israeli Identity card, a piece of laminated paper, because I was born into this country-“ she told this writer, in an exclusive email interview, before she left for Venice.

Suha stated that she suffered a ‘witch-hunt’ from the Govt, after she refused, facing even a ban to Gaza, and death-threats.

The Israel Govt ordered that she return the $500,000, that she was given to make the film.

So, Suha opted not to have a  ‘Country-name’ for her film.

The result is that Villa Touma  has been selected to be screened at more than 12 festivals of the world, including the Toronto Festival, next week, without a country-name, which is unprecedented !

“ The identity of a film, lies with its director”  stated the dynamic director  “ By  stating that it has ‘No country’, the film reflects the situation of  me and my people, who are refugees in their own country.”

Ironically, the film itself is a soft, quiet moving human drama, about three  aristocratic Christian unmarried sisters who live in isolation at their family home, until an orphan-niece comes to stay with them, and changes their lives. The sisters are played by Palestinian actresses , while the crew of the film are Israeli, in an admirable cinematic collaboration.

“ I expected that the  film would get noticed as a piece of cinematic art, and not a political storm!” stated Suha

After  the ‘political storm’,  the Venice, Toronto, and other film festivals will no gauge the ‘cinematic art’ of  the film.

 

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About LEKHA SHANKAR

SHANKAR LEKHA

I'm an Indian film-writer, based in Bangkok, and write for publications in India & Thailand. I also coordinate and curate film programs in the two countries, at cultural centres/clubs, film festivals.


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