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Oscar contender on Palestinians angers many
Davidi, the film’s Israeli partner, rejected the criticism. He said the movie should be seen for what it is: A human portrayal of the village residents.
“For me, documentaries have no identities,” he said. “Here are the facts: The film is a Palestinian-Israeli-French co-production with a Palestinian and Israeli director,” he added.
He said he would like people to stick with the facts and not get into a territorial fight on the identity of the film.
“The film tells the story of Emad and the nonviolent movement in Bilin, and that’s what’s important” Davidi said.
The struggle is viewed through the eyes of Burnat’s wide-eyed son Gibreel, whose first birthday coincides with the start of protests and whose childhood is shaped by demonstrations, soldiers and families fraying under pressure.
“I had an idea of the film, that it should be about my family, about ordinary things, to make the film closer to the people,” Burnat told The Associated Press.
In Bilin, far away from the glitz of Hollywood, there is little excitement over the movie. Few residents have seen it and hopes are dim that the sudden attention will help their cause.
“I heard there was a film. I heard it was nominated for a prize. That’s important,” said resident Rizan Abu-Rahmeh, a 23-year-old housewife, pregnant and clutching her pigtailed-daughter’s hand near Bilin’s stone-built mosque.
“But we don’t want the prize. We want what’s behind the prize. We want the land that was taken,” she said.
Conversations with the villagers betray a weariness that is reflected in the film.
“What’s an Oscar, anyway?” asked an elderly woman, Umm Hazem. Five of her seven sons were imprisoned for throwing rocks during protests over the years, and her family’s lands remain behind the barrier.
“We paid a high price, and we didn’t get anything in return,” she said.
Over eight years of weekly demonstrations, villagers count two slain residents and dozens wounded and detained in clashes with Israel.
Of some 500 acres of confiscated land, villagers wrested back about a third of their rolling, terraced groves, or some 170 acres, after a protracted legal struggle in Israel’s Supreme Court. They have exhausted all local legal avenues to claim the remaining 330 acres of land, said lawyer Emily Schaefer, who represents Bilin.
Israel has said it built the separation barrier, which snakes hundreds of miles across the frontier between Israel and the West Bank, to keep suicide bombers out of the country. But Palestinians say barrier, which frequently dips into the West Bank, is an excuse for seizing land.
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