Stumble didn’t slow Scribe’s Rise
The tale of Suha Arraf’s big break in the film business reads a bit like a Cinderella story.
A Palestinian from the tiny Israeli town of Mi’ilya, Arraf was fresh out of film school when she earned a meeting with director Eran Riklis, who was looking for a screenwriter for “The Syrian Bride.” Nervously rushing to the meeting, Arraf stumbled and snapped off one of the heels of her high-heeled shoes.
She didn’t lose a glass slipper, but she did show up at the meeting in cheap kicks bought at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. She felt like giving up – she’d never made a film before, and Riklis’s script would need to be written in Hebrew, which wasn’t her mother tongue.
But the pair had chemistry, and Riklis hired her. “The Syrian Bride” was a critics’ darling, as was “Lemon Tree” – also helmed by Riklis – which came next. Arraf followed up with this year’s “Villa Touma,” which was also her directorial debut.
Arraf writes in intense, short spurts, letting an idea percolate for weeks before cranking out a draft in a matter of days. “I think a lot about the story before I start. It’s almost like it’s written inside of me,” she says.
Growing up, her only exposure to films were Egyptian movies from the 1960s. So she writes what she knows.
“I don’t have an education in cinema, but I have an instinct,” she says. “I know Arab women very well, because I am one.”
— Debra Kamin
› Age: 45
› Rep: Fabian Haslob, KV Legal
› Inspirations: Michael Haneke, Italian cinema from the 1970s