Short Film Festival : meet directors Yael Perlov and Ahmad Bargouthi

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FOCUS – Exceptional guests of the Outdoor Short Film Festival, directors Yael Perlov and Ahmad Bargouthi were also honoured during a master class organized on Wednesday 6th July at La Maison de l’International. Aim : talk about their collaboration and film creation in conflict area. 




Guillaume Poulet, directeur de la Cinémathèque de Grenoble. © Joël Kermabon

Guillaume Poulet, director of Grenoble Cinémathèque. © Joël Kermabon

The Outdoor Short Film Festival started Tuesday 5th July 2016. Organized by Grenoble Cinémathèque, this international event provides each year an eclectic cinematographic programme. This year, two directors are honoured : Palestinian Ahmad Bargouthi – director and producer – and Israeli Yael Perlov – Director of the Cinema Department of the Faculty of Arts at Tel Aviv University.


This latter initiated “Coffee, water and sports” – three projects gathering almost twenty Israeli-Palestinian short movies-. A master class was organized Wednesday 6th July at La Maison de l’International to share their experience.


Guillaume Poulet, director of the Grenoble Cinémathèque explains what attracted him to the two accomplices : “I watched their Sport programme […] last year. I found the approach very interesting. […] I really wanted to present a part of the short movies even if it was only in the framework of our side programme, out-of-competition”.


He adds : “Their work contributes to mutual understanding of both nations but I wanted to avoid pointing out just political or geopolitical considerations, I also wanted to emphasize the cinema topic”.


How to film in difficult conditions? Why initiate an Israeli-Palestinian project? How was the project received in Israel and Palestinian territories? These were among the many question both directors tried to answer during their master class. Meeting.






Place Gre’net : What difficulties did you encounter while filming?


Yael Perlov : It’s the distance between us. I mean, at the beginning we didn’t know each other, we didn’t like each other, there was just the curiosity. And we were afraid of each other. This is the main psychological topic we were confronted to.


La réalisatrice israélienne Yael Perlov. © Alexandra Moullec

Israeli director Yael Perlov. © Alexandra Moullec

I thought he was a terrorist and he thought I was a soldier, not me but maybe my son… So it’s not easy to break this wall of stigma and deformed image of one has told the other one.


Other problem : I had to bring the Israeli staff from Israel to Palestine at 2 o’clock in the morning with the cameras. The cameras didn’t work. We dealt mostly with technical issues and to make it happen. And then we forgot who is Israeli, who is Palestinian, we just wanted to make it happen.



Do you hope to bring down physical and psychological borders by working together?


Ahmad Bargouthi : We did it in our way but it wasn’t that big effect, we tried to do it and we succeeded many times, but it was small activities.


Yael Perlov : But we believe that art can cure. We do believe in it. It cannot bring political solutions but I think that both of us we believe that art can cure situations in a very efficient way.


De gauche à droite, la réalisatrice israélienne Yael Perlov et le réalisateur palestinien Ahmad Bargouthi. © Alexandra Moullec

Israeli director Yael Perlov and Palestinian director Ahmad Bargouthi. © Alexandra Moullec

Sometimes we forgot it, but then we reminded each other : okay we are friends but we are enemis also. […] That’s the story of our life.  The conflict is there all the time, we don’t ignore it, but sometimes we forget it. The Israelians are not aware because there is a lack of information that’s what we are talking about all the time but the Palestinians are very much aware. They [Israelis, editor’s note] are not enough interested. That’s why we did it, to put this information on the table.



During your master class you quoted the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwich. Is he an inspiration?


Yael Perlov : For Coffee yes. We both decided to put a citation of Mahmoud Darwich about coffee shops and the fact that coffee sticks people together. One of the films we did in Coffee was based on a poem of him : of a person who is waking up in Beirut, and his path from the bedroom to the kitchen to make coffee. And it’s while bombing Beirut and he writes a poem on this, so we shot it.


« I had the pleasure to visit his tomb in Palestine, which I was very curious to see because I know that the Israelis refused to burry him in Israel, even though he was born in the north of the country. So I was very curious to see his grave in Ramallah.[…] I like his poems from an artistic point of view, not just political. […] Both of us have children and we think about future. So we don’t lose hope, that’s why we read this poem : cultivate the hope. We cannot stop, we will continue ».



Interviewed by Alexandra Moullec



Traduction from Speak English Center

Phone : +33 4 76 50 39 79

1 avenue du Vercors, 38600 Fontaine FRANCE


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