The deck seems
stacked against Israeli filmmakers Eytan Fox and Gal
Uchovsky, whose movie The Bubble held its
international premiere at the Toronto Film Festival this
The movie's theme
of a gay love affair between an Israeli and a
Palestinian has alienated conservative audiences in Israel
and abroad, while Europeans angry over Israeli
attacks on Lebanon don't want to see Israeli films at
all. To make matters worse, the movie,
which has a strong antiwar message, opened in Israel just
weeks before the latest Israel-Hezbollah war, and when
war started most of the cinemas closed.
"It's not an easy
movie to make. It's not as though people in Israel
say, 'This is beautiful--wow, we love it'," said
Uchovsky, one of the writers and producers of the
film, which his partner, Fox, directed. "And then you
go to the world, and the world hates you as well. It's
Set in the
self-centered "bubble" of Tel Aviv--a city reportedly
out of touch with the rest of the country--the film is
one of just two Israeli movies at the Toronto
It is far more
political--and far more gay--than Fox's previous
movie Walk on Water, a bittersweet 2004 story of
complex ties between Israelis, Germans, and Palestinians
that became Israel's biggest-grossing movie.
The new film
looks at what Fox describes as the "tormented region"
of the Middle East through the eyes of Noam from Tel Aviv
and Ashraf rom the Palestinian West Bank in a love
affair that crashes up against politics at almost
But Fox told
Reuters that the issues--including gay love, suicide
bombers, and cultural misunderstandings--were in
line with others that he and Uchovsky had handled in
their movie-making careers.
dealing with explosive subjects and subjects that are not
as easy to swallow and handle with all our films," he said,
admitting that his dream was that the movie could one
day be shown in Arab countries. "The films have
reached audiences and created understanding between
But for now the
challenge is finding festivals to screen Israeli films at
all amid strong pro-Palestinian sentiment, especially in
Europe, and distaste for the campaign against
Hezbollah and the recent Israeli bombing in Lebanon.
"During and after
the war, film festivals canceled screenings of Israeli
films because of the negative sentiment against Israel, and
I can understand some of these emotions, and I can
identify with some of them," Fox said at the public
screening of the movie.
"I think they
made a mistake, because it is our job to make films.
It's our job to use film as a means of dialogue even in the
worst times when people are making terrible mistakes."
The film, which
has close parallels to Shakespeare's tragedy, had
the working title Romeo and Julio. But Fox
switched to The Bubble to better reflect what
is going on in Israel today.
"It sounded kind
of corny, and we didn't want to just limit ourselves
to the love story," he said. (Reuters)