Talking about the Middle East – through film

13 November 2002 |

The tag line “Food for Thought” expresses the intent of an upcoming series of films produced in Israel and Palestine. “Between Forgetting & Remembering: Palestinian and Israeli Cinemas — Food for Thought” will include four documentaries — two this fall and two in early 2003 — along with discussions in varied formats designed to foster dialogue on the Middle East among students, filmmakers, and members of the community.

The effort is sponsored by the chancellor’s office in collaboration with the Arab Film Festival Cinemayaat and the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

Admission is free. Both fall films will be shown at 4 p.m. on successive Sundays in Wheeler Auditori-um, with doors opening at 3:30 p.m.

Opening the series on Sunday, Nov. 17, is “Crossing Kalandia,” a video journal kept this year by Sobhi al-Zobaidi, a Palestinian independent filmmaker and writer. In it, al-Zobaidi follows the life of everyday Palestinians living in the West Bank town of Ramallah — and while the title refers to an Israeli checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, the filmmaker’s intention is not to portray Palestinians as victims but rather to reveal their persistent and resilient efforts to lead normal lives in the midst of much violence and suffering.

Following the 52-minute screening of “Crossing Kalandia,” Beshara Doumani, associate professor of history, will moderate a discussion with the filmmaker.

On Sunday, Nov. 24, at the same hour and location, the dialogue will continue with a screening of “Her Israel,” a documentary directed and produced by Berkeley-born Marjan Tehrani. Her hour-long film follows three women with radically different perspectives and lifestyles — a Jewish Israeli, a Jewish Russian, and a Palestinian — through their daily lives in bustling Tel Aviv/Yafo.

In a time in which opinions about the future of Israelis and Palestinians are polarized, highly political, and sometimes staunchly fundamentalist, “Her Israel” (shot in the tradition of cinéma vérité) highlights political and religious realities of a particular time and place, while also exploring such universal experiences as love, motherhood, ambition, prejudice, and heartbreak. The filmmaker will take part in the discussion, moderated by Sociology Professor Ann Swidler, following the screening.

Information on these and related events is available on the “Berkeley and the Middle East” website,


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