Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai told AFP on Tuesday that he made his latest film "Ana Arabia", screening in Venice, because "peace is not a perfect equation."
"With 'Ana Arabia' we wanted to rise to the challenge of doing a single, 81-minute take," said Gitai, whose movie tells the tale of a young journalist who visits a tiny community of Arabs and Jews living in Jaffa.
"There are no cuts because I didn't want there to be any breaks in the connection between the Jews and the Arabs, between the Palestinians and the Israelis," he said in an interview in French.
The film, in competition at the Venice film festival, is based in part on the true story of a Jewish woman born in a concentration camp, who converted to Islam to marry a Palestinian man, keeping her origins secret for 50 years.
Gitai said he was inspired by an article by AFP Jerusalem journalist Majeda El-Batsch on the woman, and his own 30 years of documentary work about a small community where Arabs and Jews live side-by-side.
"We have to find a way to co-exist. It's not about do-gooding, we are all about contradictions. But peace is not a perfect equation, it is a personal choice taken by people who want to resolve conflicts without killing," he said.
In the film, Jewish Israeli journalist Yael, played by Uval Scharf, meets the relatives of the woman, Hanna Klibanov, nicknamed "Ana Arabia", meaning "Me, the Arab".
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Klibanov is deceased in the film but her non-fictional version, Leila Jabbarine, is alive in real life.
Topics touched upon during the slow-moving, dialogue-heavy movie include the difficulties of intercultural marriage, love, and whether new Russian immigrants to Israel who take cleaning jobs are treated better by Israelis than Palestinian Arabs.
The journalist in his film, Gitai said, "is just like us, like the spectator. She asks the questions that we ask."
"The Middle East is in a terrifying state of brutality, abuse of human rights, and ethnic cleansing. With 'Ana Arabia' we simulate another option," he added.
The director, known for his documentaries and feature films based on Middle Eastern conflict, said "we must, at a given moment, put an end to this infinite fight which no-one even understands any more."
"Cinema must play a part in that dialogue, and ask the necessary questions," he said.
He urged cinema makers and artists to create works promoting integration and co-existence to counter the culture of violence, particularly in crisis-torn Syria.
"Filmmakers, artists, writers should find ways through fiction to say that co-existence is possible, even in this oppressive moment in the region," he added.
"Ideas are not weak things. There are money, machine guns and bombs, but ideas have also changed the planet, so we must not hesitate to propose ideas".