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Maysaloun Hamoud on Why Palestinian Film ‘In Between’ Is Universal

Wednesday night in New York City, Kering held a screening of Maysaloun Hamoud‘s acclaimed film “Bar Bahar (In Between)” as part of its Women in Motion program, as well as a conversation between the Palestinian filmmaker and director Debra Granik, best known for the Oscar-nominated film “Winter’s Bone.”

Before the screening, Variety talked with the two directors, and Hamoud discussed the origins of her film, which she began work on six years ago at the height of the Middle East’s Arab Spring protest movement. “That spread the winds of change,” she said. “That spirit of anti-patriarchal, anti-conservative society, we wanted to bring all the dirty laundry outside. Because I am a woman director, I really want to bring it from our point of view in society.”

The acclaimed film tells the story of three young Palestinian women who share an apartment and, each in their own way, chafe against the oppressive society around them. “It created a community all over. There’s a lot of in-betweens, all over,” Hamoud added. “It’s a universal topic. It’s very nice to see your truth touch people.”

Granik added that she loves the film “because of the freshness, for me, and the non-conventional use of suspense. ” She continued, “What are these women going to do? There’s not a day that’s gone by this week where I haven’t thought about it, and that to me is gem in a film, to spur thinking.”

She then added, “I love that she poses this super-edgy question. It doesn’t matter what kind of liberal you are, if you want social justice, you have to give up something. It poses the question, what are you willing to give up? That ethical question is inherently scintillating.”

Granik is currently working on an adaptation of the novel “My Abandonment,” and Hamoud is planning on turning “Bar Bahar (In Between)” into a thematic trilogy. The Kering event was meant to highlight the work of female film directors, and Granik said that “because of the ones and zeros and how they get distributed has changed,” it’s more difficult than ever for small-scale filmmakers like herself to get their work in theaters, and was grateful for the support of institutions like Kering and Sundance.

“It’s not the body you are in but the story you are trying to tell,” Granik said. “If you are going to have a female protagonist, but she is never going to be naked in the film, that’s a huge hit financially. If you don’t solve something in American film with a firearm, we have trouble with alternative stakes. We are an all-time bloody, thirsty culture.”

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