Greenhouse under fire

Israeli, Palestinian filmmakers criticize scheme's partners

Trust the Palestinians and Israelis to get into a rumble.

A Berlinale confab Wednesday aimed at launching Greenhouse, a E.U.-funded Mediterranean Film Centre, became heated as accusations flew.

Main gripes against the scheme — aimed at developing and promoting docus from around the Med — came courtesy of a group of Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers who criticized the choice of Greenhouse partners.

In a Feb. 15 letter to Catherine Colomb-Nancy at the E.U. Europe-aid Office, 66 Israeli filmmakers asked whether Israeli state-funded New Foundation for Cinema and Television could carry out its work without prejudice when “one of its target groups are Palestinian filmmakers living under Israeli occupation.”

At the Berlin pow wow, helmer Najwa Najjar whose short “Yasmin’s Song” is showing in Panorama, reiterated the concerns of an earlier letter, recently sent to Colomb-Nancy by 40 Palestinian filmmakers, that the RFI, though described by Greenhouse as the Palestine partner, is registered in Israel.

Both letters went unanswered.

“Does this mean the Israeli state will enter the whole region through culture?” Najjar asked.

“We know it’s contentious and sensitive but the scheme is open to everybody. Many Palestinian orgs in Ramallah have dual registrations in Jerusalem,” said RFI head Adam Zuabi.

As Israeli helmer Amos Gitai pointed out, while calling for transparency in Greenhouse management, Israeli and Palestine filmmakers enjoy fluid and often excellent relations.

That makes the spat highly ironic.

The dispute may well now give way to dialogue.

“We’re pursuing a second registration in Ramallah and we’ve agreed to meet there next week and reach an agreement with the Palestinian filmmakers,” Zuabi said.

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