Israeli films win awards at Sundance

Four Israeli films screened this year at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Three were documentaries and one – Barbie Blues – was chosen for a new section, the Short Film Category.
The Law in These Parts and 5 Broken Cameras, two documentaries about Israeli occupation in the West Bank won awards in multiple categories including the Audience Award, Special Jury Prize and World Cinema Jury Prize.
Co-produced by Israeli Guy Davidi and Palestinian Emad Burnat, 5 Broken Cameras is unlike typical Israeli documentaries that have an underlying political agenda or simply chronicle the Palestinian struggle.
Shot with a hand-held video camera, Burnat films his village, Bil’in, located in the West Bank when it decided to take up nonviolent protest to Israeli settlement building and the security fence. This film is a pleasant shift, depicting Palestinians and Israelis working side by side, and the dedication to Palestinian nonviolent protest is extremely powerful.
Included in the documentary is footage of Israeli grenades and protests along with private moments Burnat films with his family and small children, showing that life goes on, even in difficult times.
The Law in These Parts, which was screened at Temple Har Shalom in Park City, is a documentary following the 1967 war and the laws imposed on the West Bank, including appropriation of land and regulations regarding Palestinians. Directed by Israeli Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, the film questions the lawyers and the judges who helped to establish the Israeli legal system that has been in place for more than four decades.
Barbie Blues was filmed as a second-year project at Tel Aviv University by Adi Kutner, 25. The short is a coming-of-age film about a teenager, Mika, (Meyrav Feldman) and her interaction with her neighbor (Dvir Benedek). Benedek is a familiar name in Israel for his role in HaMisrad, the Israeli version of The Office.
Kutner’s Barbie Blues, which won an award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival and was screened at the Rehovot Women’s Film Festival in Israel, explores the thin line sexuality can cross during adolescence.
In what is easily construed as flirtation, Barbie Blues looks at the interplay between the two characters and a situation that many can probably relate to during adolescence. Viewers may notice a similarity to American Beauty and a hint of Lolita in Barbie Blues. Audiences may be uncomfortable with the film because lines of appropriateness are not only blurred, they are purposely crossed.
Not to be overlooked is Gypsy Davy, a multi-country production that also screened at Sundance. The film merges Spain, Israel and the United States in this powerful story of one woman’s journey to understand her father. Producer Rachel Leah Jones embarks on an exploration of her father’s past and the women who fought for the attention of a man entirely devoted to his love of flamenco.
Abra Cohen is a freelance writer in Eugene.

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