During the 35 years Maysaloun Hamoud, a Palestinian director, said she wanted to “shake things up” with his films – got it.
His first feature, Between the two, has resulted with it being issued with a fatwa (Islamic religious ruling), as well as death threats.
The film, which is released in the UK this month, is about three young Arab women who share an apartment in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
Far from the tradition of their family, they find themselves “between” the free life they aspire to lead and of the restrictions still imposed.
“It is naive to say,” no, I don\’t expect any return when I wrote it,” said Hamood, “but I didn\’t know how big it would be.
“I knew when I started writing these characters that it could not be passed by, but I did not anticipate the extent of the reaction.”
Its characters are: Nour, who seems to be heading toward a respectable marriage, but her fiancé was exposed as a religious hypocrite; Salma, who dreams of being a DJ and is unable to tell her family that she is gay, and Laila, a successful lawyer, who hopes for a partner who is as liberal and independent as his, and he is disappointed.
The film is also set in the Palestinian the underground scene (a group of young Palestinians living in Israel who are using music to forge a new cultural identity for themselves) and has an electronic soundtrack of local DJs. \’Provocation\’
With scenes featuring night clubs, drug-taking and homosexuality, the director admits that “figures like this have not appeared in Palestinian cinema before,” adding that, first of all scared away by the level of violence threatened against him and his actresses in ultra-conservative, it is distinguished by its movie.
“I wanted to take the form of provocation, we need to shake things up and see different things on the screen. If we continue to do things that people think they want to see, then it is not art, it is not the cinema.
“I think that I have a job to develop my company, and that the means to change the reality. The essence of an artist is to bring change.”
Hamoud was born of Palestinian parents in Budapest in Hungary, but is now a resident of the city of Jaffa in Israel. His first short film, the Meaning of the Morning, was placed in the Beirut war in 1982, but believes In Between “is as much a political film”.\’Shame\’
That seems to be borne out by the reaction, in particular in the conservative Arab city of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel, where one of the characters, Nour, comes from. According to Hamoud, it was the mayor, here, that, first, said his film “haram”, or forbidden.
“Palestine is a young cinema and there is not a lot of genres here yet,” she says. “I think there was actually a lot of confusion here, when the film first appeared as if it was a documentary or a fiction film.
“I think some people watching it actually thought it was real life, and this is when the local leaders have said that they are ashamed of him, and began to move against the film, and began to talk about the closing of the theaters where it was playing.
“Then, my film has been declared “haram”, the fatwa issued, and we have begun to receive death threats. There was a very violent atmosphere for a couple of weeks, it was pretty scary.
“But you know, there is no such thing as bad publicity,” she adds. “More and more people began to come see the movie to see what all the fuss, and he eventually play in cinemas for months. I had a lot of reaction from both men and women.”
Between has, since, been nominated for 12 Ophir Awards in Israel\’s version of the Oscars, while Hamoud was given the best young talent award by the Women in the Movement, the movement at the Cannes film Festival this year, with Isabelle Huppert calling the three women characters in the film “the heroes of our time.”
Maysaloun Hamoud said that while the three women that she has written was not necessarily representative of his or her own friends”, they do not represent the things that we have never talked about it in our society before.
“All three characters represent huge amounts of invisible women, women who have never had their voice before in the cinema of this part of the world. Finally, the film was about her and I\’m happy.”
Between the two is released in the UK on 22 September 2017.
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