Culture Vulture IV

Culture Vulture IV

Alata (English title – Out in the Dark) 

a new movie by Michael Mayer, that had its world premiere at The Toronto International Film Festival last year and then went on to share Best Film Award at the Haifa International Film Festival, along with Filling the Void. Unlike its co-winner, Alata didn’t go on to win prizes at all of the major film festivals last year, but it has seen remarkable commercial success for an Israeli feature, having already sold to 35 countries, and it has also been picked up by HBO.

Telling the story of Roee, a Jewish Israeli lawyer in Tel Aviv and his turbulent romance with Nimer, a closeted gay Palestinian from the Occupied Territories, this is Mayer’s first feature. Up to now he has spent many successful years making trailers for some of the major Hollywood blockbusters.

About ten years ago, Mayer was visited by a friend who was working at the time in Israel’s major national NGO dealing with LGBTQ issues, and he described the plight of gay Palestinians, forced to flee from their home communities, almost always to Tel Aviv, where they face the trauma of being illegal, closeted, and subject to blackmail by other Palestinians who threaten to out them, as well as many recorded cases of the Israeli security apparatus leaning on them to become collaborators. A B’Tselem report in 1994 said that at any one time there were as many as 300-350 gay Palestinians seeking refuge in Tel Aviv , and a 2006 BBC documentary covered the stories of gay Palestinians who had been “used” by the Shabak.

Nimer is played by Nicholas Jacob, who was born in Nashville USA to an Italian mother and a Palestinian Israeli father. When Nicholas was young the family returned to Haifa, and he was sent to a Jewish school, where he was the only Arab – so even though he has zero acting training, this certainly prepared him well for being the outsider. Roee is played by Michael Aloni (the current MC of The Voice, and formerly known for Hashminiyah, and The Policeman). Nimer’s brother is played by Jamil Khoury. Now screening all over the country.


Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh detained by Israeli authorities

A Palestinian cartoonist who was arrested by Israeli authorities on February 16 remains in detention without access to a lawyer or visits by his family, according to reports. Mohammad Saba’aneh, a writer and cartoonist for the Al-Hayat al-Jadida daily has reportedly been accused of providing information to “hostile organizations.” The Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reported that Saba’aneh was arrested at a border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank when returning home from a conference at the Arab American University where he works in public relations. Cartoon Movement, the primary website for political cartoons and comics journalism, for whom Saba’aneh was a contributor have also condemned his arrest, reporting that he was scheduled to appear in court on 28 February after his initial hearing was delayed when a judge extended his detention earlier this month. Following the death of the Palestinian prisoner, Arafat Jaradat on February 23, Saba’aneh’s family issued the following open letter calling for assistance in securing his release:


“We are the family of Mohammed Abdel Ghani Saba’anah, who has been arrested by the Israeli Occupation Army as he was coming back home from Jordan through Al-Karama crossing. And since that day his lawyers have been unable to meet him and all their requests were rejected.


“We – Family of Saba’aneh – and after the death of “ARAFAT JARADAT” during investigation by the Israeli army, at Aljalameh compound or after that in Majeddo prison, we appeal to all parties especially humanitarian organizations all around the world to interfere fast to help us visit our son to check on him and his safety we appeal to them to work hard to save our son and all prisoners from the Occupation prisons to end their suffering by lifting their case up to international forums to assure their safety and their legal rights.”


The Saba’aneh family’s struggle has been backed by Journalists Without Borders and The Doha Center for Media Freedom.

A very different press story

I discovered today a website that brought me much joy – The Historical Jewish Press website. Here you can find digitalized copies of a huge collection of Jewish newspapers from around the world, in Hebrew, English, Yiddish, Russian, French and more. The latest addition to the website is the digitalization of one of the earliest Jewish newspapers to be printed in Eretz Yisrael – Halbanon, which first saw light on 20 February 1863. Go search – it is a treasure trove.

The Felicja Blumental International Music Festival

29 April-4 May at The Tel Aviv Museum of Art – why am I pointing this out so early – because you have no idea how fast the tickets on this disappear – it is a great program, not to mention an appearance by John Malkovich (yes, that John Malkovich) in The Infernal Comedy on 1 May.


Ensemble Bat Sheva

Lost Cause by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar + Tabula Rasa by Ohad Naharin – add this to the long list of other dance shows I said you should consider – Suzanne Dellal – 10-12 March at 21:00 – tickets:          03-5171-471.

Sahar Azimi

A dance performance and a musical performance – two separate performances in one night – Bo Targish (the dance show) on 7,9 March at 20:30 and 8 March at 21:00, and Sahar Azimi Hosts (the musical show) on 7,9 March at 22:00 and 8 March at 22:30 – Hangar 2, Namal Yaffo – tickets – 03-9021-563.

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