News 2012

Interview to Yael Perlov, artistic director of Water

You already promoted a collective film project: why do you prefer producing multi-director projects rather than 'standard' one-director films?

The film is produced by the Tel Aviv University, an institution that usually does not promote students' feature films, although sometimes it may help to develop a short into a feature in its final stages.

Moreover, these are socio-politically oriented films and even if the political statement is clear from the beginning and throughout the making of, they demand to take into consideration a variety of situations and points of view.

As for myself, I like the combination of fiction and documentary, especially when the characters of the documentary turn so easily into real dramatic prototypes. For example, Abu Firas, the Palestinian water seller we see in one of the episodes of the film, isn't he an actor within the painful, surrealistic situation of a thirsty city – Bethlehem - desperately seeking for a tank of water? Including his story within this series of different films creates a whole, a complete feature film which is the result I was looking for.

How did you choose the directors involved in the project?

I chose the Israeli directors participating in this project among my students whose works I was familiar with. For example, one of them, Pini Tavger, made a 7-minutes short during his first year at the University, and this work moved me to the extent that I asked him to develop it further. This is how the episode Drops was made.

On the Palestinian side, I approached a group of five Palestinian students from Bethlehem and Ramallah through Facebook and with the help of my young producers Maya de Vries and Kobi Mizrahi. The fruit of that contact is the film The water sellers.

Another Palestinian contact was with Ahmad Barghouthi, a producer and editor. While researching on the situation of water in the Occupied Territories, he took me to the swimming pool managed by Kareem. At that point we decided that he should have been the director of a film about that, that would have been his very first film. This is how Kareem’s pool was born.

The idea for the film Eyedrops started during a conversation with Mohammad Bakri, a Palestinian actor, and a friend. He told me of a personal experience of him, which I though to be an extraordinary metaphor of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was a real story that took place between him and his neighbor, a woman who survived the Holocaust.The old woman asked for his help with some eyedrops, as she cannot see without them – and therefore she could not recognize him as an Arab-Palestinian.

This film is the first cinematic work for some of the directors participating in this project. Do you think that such an important collective film is a good chance for them to start their careers?

I do, absolutely! They had an opportunity not only to express themselves in the cinematic field, but also to touch personal, often painful subjects. They carried them for a long time, and now had the chance to finally found a professional outlet. It may very well be that without this chance, they would have chosen easier, more conventional subjects.

Do you think this film can be helpful for a peaceful intercultural dialogue between Israel and Palestine?

One can remain pessimistic and do nothing about the long, static political situation that has characterised our region. Unfortunately, the most part of the people acts in this way. Personally, I cannot but take an active position instead, and struggle all the time to create a dialogue.