Drama meets daily life in Palestinian film

Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:51am EDT
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By Noah Browning

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Brazen and in broad daylight, "Israeli infantry" plunge deep into the West Bank Palestinian capital of Ramallah, hoisting a flag atop a makeshift checkpoint.

A motley crowd of children, veiled ladies and young men in jeans chant defiantly in the summer sun at the soldiers clad in olive drab and facing them with rifles. A clash looms.

"Cut!" Director Rashid Masharawi steps into the fray, his cargo shorts and straw sun hat breaking the illusion created by the actors and production company at the set of feature-length film "Palestine Stereo".

"No. like this!" he corrects a soldier-actor poised to throw his tear gas bomb under-handed and chides the crowd for not reeling back with enough force.

"Fast! And everybody in a different direction!" barked an assistant at this street corner turned movie set.

With a budget of $1.5 million, Palestine Stereo is set to be one of the most expensive films yet produced by Palestinians, and aims to transcend stale news reports and use art to convey the mindset of a people steeped in 45 years of Israeli occupation.

"It's the story of every Palestinian, loving this land, but pressured into thinking about leaving it. At the same time it's not all sadness. There's hope, a love story, and thoughts for the future," said Masharawi, who was raised in a Gaza refugee camp.

Palestinian cinema has experienced a renaissance in the last decade and a broadening global reach.   Continued...

Actors play the role of Palestinian protesters during filming on the set of feature-length film "Palestine Stereo" in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman