Voices from the Promised Land

The Jahalin Bedouins of Israel have always had a tenuous relationship with the government of Israel. Pushed out of their lands in the desert to the borders near West Bank, the Bedouins have struggled for a sense of identity. In Danny Verete's film, Yellow Asphalt (2001), the lives of these Bedouins and their conflict with Israeli Jews is captured through three short stories. The film, which features actors from the Jahalin tribes, went on to receive the Special Jury Prize at the Cologne Mediterranean Film Festival for 2001. This film is a part of the first Israeli Film Festival being organised by the Embassy of Israel in Delhi.

There will be six films screened through December at the India Habitat Centre. Among them is Joseph Cedar's Campfire (2004), which documents the struggle of a widow with two daughters who strives to be accepted in a new settlement for Jews in the West Bank. But first she must prove that she is worthy of it.

The films at the festival are from young and established Israeli filmmakers who have won accolades in Israel. "When we were selecting the films, we were looking for subjects that can relate to people in India. Since the women's role in society has surfaced in a big way in India in recent years, following the case in Delhi, and many others, we wanted to promote women's subjects," says Chana Anzi, Cultural Attaché, Embassy of Israel.

The highlight of the festival is a screening of The Rolling Story of In Jerusalem, a documentary by the late Israeli filmmaker David Perlov. Cedar's debut movie Time of Favor will also be shown, which was critically acclaimed by The New York Times, which described it as an "art house thriller". "Cedar is an established filmmaker who was nominated for an Academy award last year," says Anzi.

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