April 19, 2019

The Reality of Israel on Display at the New York Film Festival

“When Carole Zabar studied English and philosophy at the Hebrew University in the early 1960s, she was bothered by the invisibility of the few Arab students she encountered there and the community’s increasing isolation in subsequent years. She got involved with Peace Now, left-wing political party Meretz and the New Israel Fund. But eventually she felt the need to do something more hands on.

“I got the idea of a film festival because the things that really sink in people’s mind are stories,” Zabar tells Haaretz. That idea grew into the Other Israel Film Festival, now in its 12th year, taking place from November 1-8 at the Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center in Manhattan and various locations in Brooklyn.

For more than a decade, the festival has tried to give audiences a glimpse into slices of Israeli society that are often ignored or misunderstood in mainstream culture, which has tended to focus on the country’s Jewish populations.

Initially, the festival focused specifically on Israel’s Arab minority and aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In recent years, though, it has expanded to encompass underrepresented populations on screen such as Ethiopians, Yemenites and African refugees. It has also sought to draw attention to other forms of inequality in Israel such as gender – as represented this year by “Working Woman” by director Michal Aviad, starring Liron Ben-Shlush.”

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