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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