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Lovely films by: Rula Saba,

Making movies
Making movies

Women about love", a compilation of female-directed short films, premiered at Haifa's 22nd Annual International Film Festival .

Comprised of six short documentaries, "Women about love" tells the stories of real families, real life, and real love, through the eyes of their female writers and directors.

The event was the culmination of nearly two years of work by students of Almanar Taybeh College and Tel Aviv University.

Danni Reisfeld, instructor at Almanar Taybeh College and producer of the event, initially proposed the project to Ziv Naveh, General Director of Gesher Fund for Multicultural Cinema , in early 2005.

Since then, the project came to life through the collaboration of Almanar Taybeh College, Tel Aviv University, and Gesher. However, transforming the initial idea into reality was not an easy task.

Besides the usual budget problems most student films face, many were hesitant about the theme of the project, namely, Arab family life and interactions between men and women in contemporary Arab society.

Broadcasters and sponsors felt a project portraying Arabs should take place on a backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reisfeld responded to these suggestions by saying, "There's enough out there about hate. Let's do something about love."

Reisfeld insisted, "These stories must be told," stories he believed would "break a stigma", and challenge society's perception of Arab women, particularly with regards to how they interact with the men in their lives.

He also said the importance of the films was not in their plots, but in there depiction of human emotion.

Naveh too was keen on working on a project which portrayed Arabs in general and Arab women in particular, as regular people with real emotions. With regards to the political situation, she explained, "Making such films is the only way I believe we can really start creating a dialogue."

Thus, after much persistence, hard work, and time, "Women about love" was born.

Though all six films were decidedly different, they all had one thing in common. They were all written and directed by young Arab women and conveyed their own emotions of anger and frustration, happiness and sadness, but most of all, courage and love.

Different types of love were illustrated in the films. Some of the films dealt with issues such as arranged marriages, failed relationships, and relationships that succeeded against all odds.

Others revealed the strength and courage needed to leave family and loved ones behind for the sake of a better future.

“I’m very proud of the project,” Reisfeld said. He said he felt the message got across and succeeded in changing the viewers' opinions on Arab women in today’s society.

Naveh was also satisfied with people’s reactions to the project, “People came up to me saying ‘Wow, I never knew it was like that’.” She said that many found it surprising that the women in the films were so strong.

Speaking of the films' female directors, Reisfeld explained, "Though they are covered head to toe, they are no different from any woman I know." That was the message he wanted to send to the audience.

Naveh expressed her appreciation of the women's courage, "They were so brave, not everyone would take a camera into their own home." 

Donia Bransi, Director of Almanar-Taybeh College, was very happy to see the event finally taking place, saying she felt she had "fulfilled a dream". In her speech following the screening, she simply said "My girls, I am so proud of you."

"The language of film is our strongest voice," Bransi said. She added that despite difficulties, they (Arab women) would make themselves heard, "We are not just ornaments, we are strong, and together we will do great things, even if we're starting from scratch."

Naveh concluded, "I really hope we will succeed in bringing more and more such stories to the mainstream, I know it will make a difference, I feel like it’s a mission, not a just for the industry, but also for society."

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