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Palestinian-Israel conflict fruitful for film

Filmmakers use movies to voice concern

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has proved as fruitful a subject for filmmakers as it has a frustratingly intransigent one for politicians.

And it isn’t just filmmakers from the disputed land who have tackled the conflict.

Abu Dhabi’s Middle East Intl. Film Festival is hosting a special retrospective sidebar dedicated to 60 years of films by Western helmers about the issue.

“The films on the Palestinian cause preserve the rich memory of an old nation, emphasizing the importance of remembering the past,” says fest programmer Kais al-Zubaidi.

And filmmakers from that region are gaining more attention.

Palestinian helmers have completed an unprecedented five features this year, including Annemarie Jacir’s “Salt of This Sea,” Najwa Najjar’s “Pomegranates and Myrrh” and Rashid Masharawi’s “Laila’s Birthday.”

Israeli filmmakers are also gaining more exposure.

Ari Folman’s animated “Waltz With Bashir” bowed to critical acclaim at Cannes in May.

“I don’t think it’s much of a surprise that people are fascinated by this subject matter,” says Israeli helmer Eran Kolirin, whose “The Band’s Visit” poked fun at Arab-Israeli tensions. “It’s a big part of living here.”