Controversial Israeli film “Foreign Land” in U.S. in March
Israeli officials denounce the film and promote censorship, urging Israelis not to view it, show it or support it, which means everyone should see this documentary
The film tells how Israeli society slips into extremism from the personal viewpoint of an Arab actor and a Jewish journalist that search for place they could call home.
Early this week the Israeli Minister of Culture, MK Miri Regev, said at the opening of the weekly government session that the film “slanders Israel” and that no public television channel should buy or broadcast it. The film will be broadcast by “Kan” – the state run public Israeli television channel.
The film director, Shlomi Eldar is an award winning journalist that for the past two decades has covered the Palestinian Authority for Israel’s leading Television stations. He responded to Regev’s accusation saying that, “Foreign Land” is a documentary film, and for the past five years I filmed reality, real people in real life. To be afraid of a camera means to be afraid of the truth”.
This is not the first time Minister Regev has launched an attack on the Israeli film industry. Just a few months ago Regev said that the movie “Foxtrot” by Shmulik Maoz is a “disgrace” that “tarnishes the reputation of the Israeli army”. However, this is the first time Regev called an Israeli broadcast channel not to air a film made by an Israeli film maker and already slotted for broadcast.
The film has won the “best documentary” award at the prestigious Haifa Film Festival. However, it was never screened outside of Israel. The movie’s first premier in North America will be next month in the Miami International Film Festival on 3/11/2018.
Gassan Abbas and Shlomi Eldar were both at a crossroads. Abbas was once an Israeli sit-com star, while Eldar was an Arab Affairs correspondent for the national news. Things changed: Abbas, a Palestinian, is no longer getting roles, while Eldar’s reportage is ushered to the margins of the daily news. Where does life take these men now?
Eldar’s first documentary was the impossibly moving “Precious Life,” which screened at the Festival in 2011. His follow-up is only stronger, wiser and more personal. Foreign Land tracks the mid-life detours of two extraordinary men, placing emphasis on their encounter with someone who lost everything to Israel’s ongoing conflict yet refuses to succumb to hate. This is an incisive and important film about taking distance to see things more clearly, and knowing when it’s time to start afresh.
Director: Shlomi Eldar
Producer: Ehud Bleiberg, Yoav Ze’evi
Music: Gilad Benamram
Cinematographer: Shlomi Eldar
Editor: Halil Efrat
Here is a promo video trailer for the film:
Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. He began writing in 1975 publishing The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues as Special US Correspondent for the Arab News ArabNews.com, at TheArabDailyNews.com, and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday, the Orlando Sentinel, Houston Chronical, and Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
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