AFS Screening Series at LPCA

AFS Screening Series at LPCA 2018-04-27T01:46:55+00:00

 

“A Perfect Film for the Moment,” IN BETWEEN Celebrates “Female
Power and Solidarity” and Personifies the #MeToo Movement

 In Palestinian director Maysaloun Hamoud’s feature debut, being screened April 27-28 by the AFS—partnering with John Brown Lives!, the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, and LPCA—three Palestinian women sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv try to find a balance between tradition and modern culture

Mouna Hawa as Lalia

Mouna Hawa as Lalia

LAKE PLACID, NY— Hailed by The New York Times as “a perfect film for the moment,” “IN BETWEEN” (“BAR BAHAR”) illustrates the struggle of three women against misogyny in Tel-Aviv and offers a new take on feminism in this unique context. With both gravity and humor, “IN BETWEEN” is a timely reflection for the #MeToo era.

In what is Palestinian female director Maysaloun Hamoud’s feature film debut (she also wrote the movie’s screenplay), three Palestinian women share an apartment in the vibrant heart of Tel Aviv. Lalia (played by Mouna Hawa), a criminal lawyer with a wicked wit, loves to burn off her workday stress in the underground club scene. Salma (Sana Jammelieh), slightly more subdued, is a DJ and bartender. Nur (Shaden Kanboura) is a younger, religious Muslim woman who moves into the apartment in order to study at the university.

Nur is both intrigued and intimidated by her two sophisticated roommates. When her conservative fiancé visits, he is horrified by her secular friends, entreating her to hasten their marriage, leave Tel Aviv, and assume her rightful role as a wife. She refuses, and his violent rebuttal leaves all of the women shaken. Salma and Lalia also face turmoil: Lalia has found love with a modern Muslim man whose acceptance proves less than unconditional, and Salma discovers that her Christian family in a northern Galilean village is not as liberal as they claim. These three very different women find themselves doing the same balancing act between tradition and modernity, citizenship and culture, fealty and freedom.

“IN BETWEEN” has received numerous awards, but it has also been quite controversial—resulting in a “fatwa,” an Islamic religious ruling, being issued on director Hamoud, who along with her three leading actresses received death threats. Shortly after the movie opened in Israel, the mayor of a city in northern Israel, which has one of the country’s largest Arab populations and where one of the film’s characters is described as being from, declared “IN BETWEEN” “forbidden”—resulting in a ban on showing it in his city—and delivered a speech in which he called Hamoud a heretic. The mayor’s declarations were soon followed by the Higher Islamic Council issuing the fatwa, determining that Hamoud was harming Islam and that the film was sinful. The film’s notoriety led to box office success, and ultimately “IN BETWEEN” was nominated for 12 Ophir Awards (widely thought of as Israel’s Oscars)—winning for Best Actress (Shaden Kanboura) and Best Supporting Actress (Mouna Hawa).

The Adirondack Film Society (AFS) Screening Series at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA) will present “IN BETWEEN” on Friday and Saturday, April 27-28, at 7 p.m. in a program co-sponsored/co-presented by the locally based, grassroots freedom education and human rights project John Brown Lives! (johnbrownlives.org), the Adirondack Diversity Initiative (diverseadks.org), and the LPCA (lakeplacidarts.org). Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance by visiting lakeplacidarts.org or calling the LPCA box office at 518-523-2512; they will also be available at the door. To learn more about the Screening Series or other AFS programs, please contact AFS Operations Manager Fred Balzac at 518-523-3456 or -588-7275 or adirondackfilmsociety@gmail.com.

From left to right, Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, and Shaden Kanboura

From left to right, Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, and Shaden Kanboura

A Young Filmmaker of Distinction

Born in Budapest in 1982, Palestinian writer and director Maysaloun Hamoud grew up in Dier Hanna, a village in northern Israel. After completing her B.A in Middle Eastern History at the Hebrew University and graduating with a master’s degree in history from the University of Jerusalem, she decided to study filmmaking at the Minshar School of Art in Tel Aviv, graduating with distinction. She has been living in Jaffa for the past eight years. Her previous films, all shorts, include “Salma” (2012), “Scent of Morning” (2010) and “Shades of Light” (2009).

Her daring and groundbreaking first feature, “IN BETWEEN,” has garnered rave notices from a multitude of film critics:

Sana Jammelieh as Salma

Sana Jammelieh as Salma

“[The film] is fatalistic about the local political situation, pessimistic about men and encouraged by the power of female solidarity. In other words, whether by serendipity or prophetic insight or some combination of the two, it’s a perfect movie for the moment…. “‘IN BETWEEN,’” Ms. Hamoud’s debut feature, is an unusually welcoming and engaging film, inviting you to become a part of the circle of friends it depicts with such energy and warmth.”—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“After watching Maysaloun Hamoud’s sparkling, taboo-breaking first feature ‘IN BETWEEN’ (‘Bar Bahar’), audiences will have to seriously update their ideas about the lifestyle of Palestinian women in Israel…. ‘IN BETWEEN’ focuses not on politics but on daily life, yet its portrait of social change is most revealing. As the film documents, alongside the traditional male-dominated Arab family structure there exist independent females who are incredibly cool and part of an uninhibited underground scene that looks more like Beirut than Tel Aviv. Hamoud recounts all this in a breezy, light-hearted dramedy of girl power….”—Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“While films and TV series about the trials and tribulations of female friends living, loving, and working in a big city may be fairly common, Arab-Israeli writer-director Maysaloun Hamoud refreshes the genre’s tropes with her energetic feature debut ‘IN BETWEEN’…. While the entire cast is aces, the three leads, and the chemistry among them, are especially fine.”—Alissa Simon, Variety

‘IN BETWEEN’s’ central trio also illuminates the firm bond between women under threat from the same forces…. [and] provides a glimpse of the battle faced by women of a younger generation with a crucial fighting spirit.”—Sarah Ward, Screen Daily

“A discovery at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, ‘IN BETWEEN’ hails from Israel, and is one of the best recent films to come out of that country, or anywhere for that matter. It works as both a cri de coeur and the movie equivalent of a page-turner.”—Kent Turner, Film Forward

“The film is a delight, and was one of the highlights of TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] 2016.”—Alex Heeney, Seventh Row

“The storytelling, character development and acting are mesmerizing.”—Michael Jacobs, Atlanta Jewish Times

‘IN BETWEEN’ is a vibrant, modern, and sometimes heartbreaking story of three Palestinian women sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv…. ‘IN BETWEEN’ focuses on the bounds of sisterhood and the strength it takes to forge one’s own path with the confidence to be exactly who you are.”—Adam Lubitow, Rochester City-News

“A TALENT TO WATCH!”—The Village Voice • “FULL OF LIFE…AFFECTING and ENTERTAINING”—Wall Street Journal • “BOLD, BRASSY and BEAUTIFUL… politically this is fire-breathing material” —NPR • “A FIST-PUMPING CELEBRATION of female power and solidarity”—The Playlist • “[An] electric debut… a mix of rock ’n’ roll and sorrow”—Film Journal International • “IMPASSIONED!”—A.V. Club • “TERRIFIC! —Trust Movies • “3.5 stars (out of 4) … The #MeToo movement personified.”—RogerEbert.com • “[AN] ASSURED, ENERGETIC DEBUT!”—The Wrap • “AS TENDER AS IT IS POTENT!”—The Young Folks • “A Palestinian feminist revenge fantasy”—Vogue • “ENTERTAINING and ENGROSSING!” —Art for Progress • “REFRESHINGLY OFF-BEAT!”—The Brazilian Press • “Certified Fresh: 98%”—Rotten Tomatoes

Running time: 103 mins • Israel (in Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles) • Not rated (for mature audiences only due to adult language and sexual situations and violence)

“IN BETWEEN” concludes the 2017-2018 edition of the AFS Screening Series at LPCA, the fifth year of which will start up late summer/early fall. In the meantime, the AFS will present a special spring fundraiser, the “Old Hollywood Mud Season Murder Mystery”: A Participatory Whodunit, on Thursday, May 3rd, at 7 pm at LPCA—tickets to which can be purchased online at bit.ly/afsmurdermystery (for other payment options or more info, please call 518-523-3456 or e-mail adirondackfilmsociety@gmail.com).

And save the dates for the annual Lake Placid Film Forum, which, for the first time in its 18-year history will be held in the fall—Friday through Sunday, October 26-28, 2018! [ ]

Shaden Kanboura as Nur

Shaden Kanboura as Nur

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Interview with the Filmmaker

The following is an interview with Maysaloun Hamoud by Kaid Abu Latif of i24NEWS in Israel, published in the film’s official press kit.

How was IN BETWEEN born?

We were at an important historical point in time, just at the beginning of the formation of the new Palestinian cultural scene, with groundbreaking parallel revolutions in the Arab world around us. We felt it was time to come up with a new voice. Now, we told ourselves, the existing order is being brought down and new and healthy societies are being built, societies which can promote citizens from the grim reality, as we know it, since the beginning of the era of nation-states. With this spirit the idea for the film was born.

Director and screenwriter Maysaloun Hamoud

Director and screenwriter Maysaloun Hamoud

Is the movie based on your personal experiences of living between Tel Aviv and Jaffa?

The realism of the film’s cinematic language means it remains faithful to the world it represents. What the protagonists perceive as normal – the pubs they hang out at, the dress code, the way they talk—is actually Tel Aviv’s Palestinian underground scene.

And since I’m part of that scene, you could say I captured my life in the film. The plot lines don’t closely match my biography but I drew inspiration from the things around me and real people in my life. The milieu captured in the film didn’t come out of nowhere, it runs parallel to similar scenes across the Arab world, in cities such as Beirut, Cairo, Amman, Tunis and others.

Being the child of a Communist Party member, my earliest memories are of my father carrying me on his shoulders during the May Day parade. No doubt this has affected and created many influences. Books by Emil Habibi, Darwish, Tawfik Ziad, Ghassan Kanafani, Naji al-Ali, and Márquez were accessible at my home, as were other milestones of Arab and world culture.

Can you describe what you mean by “Palestinian avant-garde”?

I mean by that the community of young Palestinians, the oldest of whom are in their thirties. They live in an urban space, mostly in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem. It’s made up of the trailblazer generation, who paved the way, and the generation who are 10 years younger and followed in their footsteps. The vast majority, if not all, of the trailblazers experienced the events of October 2000 as teenagers; it was their big conscious-forming moment. In retrospective, you could say these young people were molded in the years following the October 2000 events, at universities and in the activist community which was on fire during the second Intifada.

Students and young activists, cadres of Arab political parties in the country, flooded the streets in demonstrations and strikes which were marked by a secular and free spirited struggle. The struggle was heterogeneous, girls and boys were equally active, and the struggle did not confine itself only to the national aspects. Questions concerning sexual liberation, sexual identities and feminist consciousness were an integral part of the social experience that allowed the scene to grow.

By the way, these youngsters grew up as I did—on the classical Arab poetry of al-Mutnabbi and Abo Nawas, which I quote in the film, as well as many others like the national modern poets, Muzaffar al-Nawab, Mahmoud Darwish, and Adonis, who deal with freedom as a fundamental part of their writings.

It takes great boldness to deal with sexuality and homosexuality in the Arab world. To what extent were you bothered by the question of acceptance of the film and its issues?

Once you express your world view and your manifest, there’s no turning back. Either do something real or don’t do it at all. At least that is the way I see things.

The youthful spirit of the Arab Spring did not pass over Palestine/Israel. We were all there with our souls. In one moment cries of “Kefaya” (Arabic for “Enough”) left the mouths of millions of young people who were tired of the old biases based on oppression, patriarchy, sexism, exclusion, repression of homosexuality and the perpetuation of traditional codes that were aimed at securing the existing order.

The “Enough!” is an expression of a conscious change that is happening in the younger generation. This generation can no longer continue playing with codes that aren’t relevant anymore. We must put things on the table, as long as we continue to sweep the fears under the carpet, the carpet will rise and we will all stumble into the darkness that overshadows our freedom. If we don’t shake out the carpet and deal with things now it will be too late and degeneration will conquer.

If the question is whether I am afraid of hostile reactions to the film, I can say that I am not naïve, and I’m sure there will be “stigmatizing” following the film, and even hostility towards me personally, but that’s part of the price that has to be paid for changing consciousness, which is the reason I make films. I am concerned about the degree to which the film is accepted only in respect to its ability to create a lively dialogue around the issues it deals with. Whether or not this will happen, I do not know.

Did you try to present a new type of Arab femininity or Palestinian feminism through the film?

I think it’s time to bring more Palestinian female representations to Palestinian cinematography. The stereotype of a woman always being someone’s mother, sister, or daughter has already ignited itself. There is a new era which is opening up—one in which a woman is staged in the center and not just behind the male characters.

In most cases, the direct political story is the one of importance, the one in which Palestinian women are usually represented as being victimized. I want to show that women exist among us, but are, at the same time, transparent in cinematic imagery. The film presents a range of female figures, young and old, town and country dwellers, more traditional and less traditional, while ensuring real femininity and not just one model of beauty.

My heroines bring their dreams to the screen. Sexuality, activism, and liberation from men can be feminist even if that word does not necessarily define them. Many religious women act in a feminist way without calling it that, it doesn’t really matter. The point is that each one can free herself in her own way and she doesn’t have to be liberal or secular to be freed.

closeup 3 women on roof In Between_05The film is almost entirely in Arabic, but much of the crew who worked on it did not speak Arabic, how did it work in practice?

I knew I was going to juggle between the two languages, because working with the actors was in Arabic and with the crew, it was mostly Hebrew. At first it was a bit strange that Arabic got the focus, and there were those who felt threatened, as if someone pulled the rug from under their feet, because they did not know the language and didn’t understand everything that was going on. But slowly it began to be fun because the crew knew the script and gradually started to realize what was going on in between the shots. And even those who felt animosity started to use the language.

At the end of filming, Arabic became common, and I was thrilled that I managed to break this barrier and it was good for everyone.

Where do you “place” the film in relation to other contemporary films made in the Arab world?

An Arab New Wave has begun to emerge. As we have been influenced by the spirit of the Arab Spring and because we are similar to many friends in the Arab world we can see a new wave of realism also in Tunisia and Lebanon and Amman, with emphasis on freedom and liberation. This thread links artists despite the geographical distance. Today, with the Internet being a world of its own, close relationships are formed and collaborations are happening. [ ]


Selected Past Progams

 

Leaving Home—to Look for America

Brooklyn Poster larger vrsnThe Adirondack Film Society (AFS) Screening Series Version 2.0 continued at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA) March 11-12, 2016 with the three-time Oscar-nominated, Brooklyn.  The highly acclaimed romantic drama—nominated for three Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan) and Best Adapted Screenplay of 2015—tells the heart-wrenching story of one young Irish woman’s journey leaving home behind in the “old country” to finding a new home—and a new love—in America.

Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey lands in 1950s Brooklyn to start work in New York City, where she has been sponsored for employment and the promise of great opportunity. She is at first homesick and despondent but then embarks on a romance that will ultimately force her to decide what home really is.

Here’s what Rolling Stone had to say about Brooklyn: “There will be bigger, wilder, weightier movies this year, but none lovelier than Brooklyn. I relished every moonstruck minute of it. The astonishing Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Hanna) lights up the screen in a performance that takes a piece of your heart.”

The 2015-2016 AFS Screening Series at LPCA concludes for this season on Friday and Saturday evening, April 15-16 (rescheduled from April 8-9), at 7 p.m. with the compelling real-life drama that unabashedly reveals a devastating truth, Spotlight—winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2015. And save the dates for the annual Lake Placid Film Forum, happening Wednesday through Sunday, June 8-12.

Cold Warrior Weekend

The Adirondack Film Society (AFS) Screening Series welcomed back four-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jim Brown to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA) February 12-13 to screen his new documentary, Free to Rock, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland.

Rock ‘n’ roll spread like a virus across the Soviet Union despite attempts by the country’s Communist government to outlaw it. Thousands of underground bands and millions of young fans who yearned for Western freedoms helped fuel the nonviolent implosion of the Soviet regime. Free to Rock features Presidents, diplomats, spies and rock stars from the West and the Soviet Union who reveal how rock ‘n’ roll music was a contributing factor in bringing down the Iron Curtain and ending the Cold War.

Producer/director/writer/cinematographer Jim Brown is responsible for some of the most popular and critically acclaimed musical documentary programs of the past four decades, including Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, The Weavers: Wasn’t That a Time, Woody Guthrie at 100: Live at the Kennedy Center, Don McLean: American Troubadour, Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust-The Bridge to Russia and Concert for Newtown.

In February 2015, the AFS Screening Series showed his film 50 Years with Peter, Paul and Mary, which Mr. Brown introduced in person and helped lead a robust discussion about following two screenings of it. Free to Rock, which had the distinction of premiering this past November in Washington, DC before Congress to help mark the 50th Anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities, engendered a similarly wide-ranging discussion with its LPCA audience this past February.

Tom Hanks plays James B. Donovan (inset) in “Bridge of Spies”

The Cold War theme continued President’s Day weekend with a special matinee screening of the Steven Spielberg thriller—and Oscar nominee for Best Picture of 2015—Bridge of Spies on Sunday, February 14th, at the Palace Theatre on Lake Placid’s Main Street. Co-presented by the Adirondack Film Society and the Lake Placid Institute, the screening featured in-person appearances by Beth Amorosi and Trish Muccia, granddaughters of James B. Donovan, who is played in the film by Tom Hanks. Along with AFS Artistic Director Kathleen Carroll and Operations Mgr. Fred Balzac, Ms. Amorosi introduced Bridge of Spies and, with Ms. Muccia, participated in a post-screening discussion of the film, the real-life adventures of Mr. Donovan (who detailed the same story told in the film in his book, Strangers on a Bridge) and their family’s long ties to Lake Placid.

A New King and Queen of the Indies

mistress america posterThe latest film by independent writer-director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, While We’re Young) stars his real-life love—and the film’s co-writer/co-producer—Greta Gerwig, who continues to receive accolades for her performances and is rapidly becoming recognized as one of contemporary film’s leading comic actors.

mistress america kitchen photoIn Mistress America, Tracy (Lola Kirke) is a lonely college freshman in New York City, having neither the exciting university experience nor the glamorous metropolitan lifestyle she envisioned. But when she is taken in by her soon-to-be stepsister, Brooke (Greta Gerwig)—a resident of Times Square and adventurous gal about town—Tracy is rescued from her disappointment and seduced by Brooke’s alluringly mad schemes.

Year 2 of the Adirondack Film Society (AFS) Screening Series at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA) resumed in January with this most recent collaboration by Baumbach and Gerwig, a witty comedy about what it means today to be young, gifted and female and to pursue your dreams in the Big City.

Describing Baumbach and Gerwig as an “indie cinema power couple,” Michael Oliver Harding of dazeddigital.com writes: “Since first hitting it off on the set of their misanthropic rom-com Greenberg, this on/off-screen pairing (they co-write while she stars and he directs) has collaborated on two remarkably astute portraits of contemporary New Yawk women: aspiring, late-twenty-something dancer Frances Ha and zany girl-about-town Mistress America. The latter screwball picture…should establish them once and for all as a creative tandem to be reckoned with.”

mistress america great white wayMistress America premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired and released this past August by Fox Searchlight Pictures. The film received a positive review from more than 80% of critics, according to the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, which sums up the critical consensus as “Mistress America brings out the best in collaborators Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, distilling its star’s charm and director’s dark wit into a ferociously funny co-written story.”

Richard Brody, writing in the August 24, 2015 issue of The New Yorker hails Mistress America as a masterwork of literary cinema: “…It’s a work of brilliant writing, one of the most exquisite of recent screenplays. While watching the film, I wanted to transcribe the dialogue in real time for the pleasure of reading it afterward (and I hope that the screenplay, which Gerwig and Baumbach co-wrote, will be published as a book). The center of its writerly wonder is Brooke’s wild verbal whimsy.”

You can read the entire review here.

The Cameras Kept Rolling Even After the Explosions Occurred

The Adirondack Film Society Screening Series at LPCA returned for its second season with a powerful documentary about blues music, terrorism and the redemptive power of love that helped mark the 14th anniversary of September 11th

BBTB poster_AFS_hiresLAKE PLACID, NY — The second year of the Adirondack Film Society (AFS) Screening Series at LPCA opened with a compellingly powerful documentary about blues music, terrorism and the redemptive power of love and human perseverance, helping the North Country remember the 14th anniversary of the September 11th attacks in New York City, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania.

Blues by the Beach tells the story of what happens when the filming of a documentary about Mike’s Place, a live music blues bar on the waterfront in Tel Aviv, Israel is interrupted by a terrorist bombing—and how the survivors pull together and reopen this special place in the Middle East dedicated to peaceful coexistence among a clientele from diverse faiths and nationalities. The film was shown Friday and Saturday, September 11-12, at 7 pm.

In keeping with the tradition of the AFS Screening Series and its companion event, the Lake Placid Film Forum (returning June 8-12, 2016), of not just showing movies but curating, analyzing and helping to educate audiences about the films its screens, both the Friday and Saturday evening programs featured in-person appearances by the producers of Blues by the Beach, the husband-and-wife team of Jack Baxter and Fran Strauss-Baxter. They introduced their film and participated in a post-screening Q&A moderated by AFS Artistic Director Kathleen Carroll.

In addition, copies of the brand-new book, Mike’s Place (First Second, 2015, hardcover, 190 pp.), which tells the same story as Blues by the Beach but in graphic-novel fashion, was available at both screenings for purchase and for signing by Mr. Baxter, courtesy of The Bookstore Plus, 2491 Main Street in Lake Placid (518-523-2950, www.thebookstoreplus.com).

 

Altered Takes

Blues by the Beach began as a documentary whose aim was to show viewers that there is more to the Middle East than seemingly endless war and terrorism. New York-based filmmaker and freelance journalist Jack Baxter (writer/director/producer of the critically acclaimed 1995 film Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X) had originally traveled to Israel to make a documentary about the trial of a notorious accused terrorist, but that project doesn’t pan out. He’s just about to head back home when he happens on Mike’s Place, where one rule is strictly observed by the diverse clientele of Israelis, Arabs, Europeans, and Americans: never, ever talk politics or religion.

Immediately enamored with the intercultural mix and American blues-style music, Baxter teams up with bartender/filmmaker Joshua Faudem and begins filming. However, the appearance one night of a suicide bomber suddenly and harrowingly shatters the peaceful atmosphere—radically altering the arc of documentary’s narrative, as the film takes a poignant turn toward examining the lives of the survivors. The result of this collaborative effort is a film that resonates with recovery, perseverance and hope.

Blues by the Beach has won numerous awards and accolades since it was first released in 2004 (www.bluesbythebeachfilm.com). Playwright and filmmaker David Mamet hailed it as “a very, very important film…[that] ranks, along with One Day in September  as an actual, undeniable presentation of the unmitigated horror of terrorism.” It won the Pierre Salinger Award for Best Documentary at the 12th Annual Avignon/New York Film Festival and the Conflict & Resolution Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

MikesPlace_cover-300CMYKAdding to the heightened interest in the documentary is the publication, this past June, of the graphic novel Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv. Written by Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem and illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Koren Shadmi, Mike’s Place is described by its publisher as Casablanca meets Syriana and Argo—a multi-plot thriller that chronicles the story of this infamous terrorist attack in painstaking detail (www.mikesplacebook.com).