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Wide carries Israeli-Palestinian ‘Water’

Eye on Films picks up omnibus film

Wide Management has acquired worldwide sales rights outside France and Israel to “Water,” which opens the Venice Festival’s 27th Critics’ Week.

Produced by Tel Aviv U. and France’s Tu Vas Voir (“The Motorcycle Diaries”), the seven shorts in the omnibus feature turn on water as a source of life, conflict and fleeting contact between Israelis and Palestinians.

In the run-up to Venice, “Water” has also been selected for Eye on Films, a global network of 34 distributors and 42 fests.

Channeling support from Media Mundus, the EU film-TV support program, Eye on Films supplies 50% funding for first films’ theatrical p&a and festival promotion.

Of Eye on Films’ 11 first films, eight have been sold to 14-plus countries, said Eye on Films prexy Loic Magneron.

Palestinians are not allowed to enter Israel; Israelis are barred from the Occupied Territories. Bucking this “ideology of separation,” in the words of Tel Aviv U.’s Yael Perlov, “Water’s” initiator and artistic director, “Water’s” shorts were made by mixed crews and casts of Israeli Jews, Israeli-Arabs and Occupied Territory Palestinians, Ramallah’s Ahmad Bargouti (“Kareem’s Pool”) and Bethlehem’s Mohammed Fouad (“The Water Seller”).

On “Kareem’s Pool,” whose climax records Jewish settlers invading a Palestinian swimming pool in neo-military fashion, “Water” producers Kobi Mizrahi and Maya de Vries and the cameraman are Israelis, the director, soundman and protag Palestinian.

The mix of directors was one reason Eye on Films picked up “Water.” Also, said Magneron, “We’re certain some directors will move on to full features.”

“Water” is rich in film styles: Social drama, (“Still Waters”), romance (“Now and Forever”), docu portrait (“The Water Seller”), fly-on-the-wall reportage (the climax of “Kareem’s Pool”), recreation (“Eye Drops”), flashback (“Drops”), even performance-driven farce (“Raz and Rajda”).

The multitude of genres was intended, mirroring “the struggle over water in its multifaceted aspects, and as it really is,” Perlov said.

Negotiations for French distribution will begin after thhe Venice screenings, said Tu Vas Voir founder Edgard Tenembaum.

“It’s important for distributors to discover ‘Water’ in a big festival. U.S. distribution would help us continue working,” he added.

After a first Tel Aviv U. portmanteau pic, “Coffee,” Tenenbaum and Perlov are committed to a third Israeli-Palestine themed omnibus for 2014, though the subject has still to be chosen.

For Perlov, “We have created a group of young people full of energy, determined to choose a different step forward.”

She added, “Yes, it was a small step, but nevertheless a step full of hope.”

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