A Word from the Festival Director

Two years ago, our editorial opened with the words: From anguish to hope. Since then, as far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned, the situation has worsened.


The frenzied colonization program adopted by the current extreme right-wing government has ended in a cul-de-sac. On the one hand, it has been greeted by greater diplomatic isolation; on the other, it is clearly becoming less and less possible to expel half a million settlers, most of whom are absolute fanatics. Nor can one allow Hamas to continue to station rockets in Tel-Aviv suburbs. The unsuccessful (for Israel) invasion of Lebanon was followed by the horrors of the storming of Gaza.

Just as the invasion of Iraq destroyed the heart of the nation (cf. Life after the Fall by Kasim Abid), so too did the two Israeli invasions of Lebanon and Palestine destroy the soul and structures of the latter countries. It is Palestine that experiences the worst consequences; a would-be nation that was already geographically  partitioned is now undergoing a political separation which takes its source in the tension between Fatah, ever more unable to win concessions from Israel, and Hamas, driven by the energy of despair.

This year's program reveals yet again the extension of the conflict to all regions of the world. Syria's absence should not be attributed solely to the harsh regime; its film production is barely 2 or 3 films a year. Iran's contributions are more numerous, owing mainly to exiled filmmakers. As for Iraq, we are featuring for the last time the American aggression with Iraq for Sale by Robert Greenwald and No End in Sight by Charles Ferguson.

That will be our reality, starting on opening night, with an excellent film, Ajami, born from a collaboration between the Palestinian, Scandar Copti, and the Israeli, Yaron Shani. The projection will be followed by a debate/discussion among our good friends: Leďla Shahid, Dominique Vidal, and Michel Warcshawski.  A stunning start to a stunning program of the impossible dream, including films from Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran as well as others undertaken by Americans and Europeans affected by these themes.

Many of them are new on the scene, at the start of their careers or not yet well known in the West. Often, their productions will be ignored by commercial circuits.

All these presentations will be followed by debates and discussions on a variety of relevant topics, on Gaza, for example, the Near and Middle East in general, acute questions concerning women, Iraq during and after the war, Israeli colonization, exile, Lebanon, and, for the first time, Iran. These debates involving, as they do, the most knowledgeable specialists of the region and the most prestigious filmmakers, will both illustrate the seemingly unending extent of the problems and help to define possible solutions.

Together we stand, together we will overcome stupidity, brutality and cynicism; evil shall not triumph. No Pasarán (They shall not pass!)

Janine Halbreich-Euvrard

(1) Title of a poem collection published in 1946 by Paul Eluard, illustrated by Marc Chagall

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