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Israeli film about Tinder encounters with Palestinian men gets top nod in Berlin

The Golden Bear for Best film trophy, awarded to Iranian dissident director Jafar Panahi in absentia for his film Taxi, is on display after the closing ceremony of the 65th International Film Festival Berlinale on February 14, 2015 in Berlin
Odd Andersen (AFP)
The festival's grand prize went to 'Touch Me Not' by Romanian first-time director Adina Pintilie

“The Men Behind The Wall”, an Israeli film about filmmaker Ines Moldavsky's Tinder encounters with Palestinian men, won top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday night, taking home the prestigious Golden Bear award for short films with the deciding jury lauding its “exploration of gender and politics across borders.”

In “The Men Behind The Wall,” Moldavsky crosses political, physical and sexual boundaries to meet with men in the West Bank, suggested to her by the app’s search mode.

The 28-minute-long film captures their conversations – first phone calls and then during face to face encounters – about sex, life and sometimes politics.

Some of the men show themselves, others read poems aloud, but time and again the talk comes back to their needs, their lust, and the possibility of sharing that lust.

In one scene, Moldavsky stands provocatively at an intersection in downtown Ramallah, dressed in a red spaghetti strap dress, outstretched arms balancing a microphone boom in the air.

“We were impressed by the audacity of the winning film and its exploration of gender and politics across borders,” noted the jury awarding the Golden Bear.

“What makes it particularly poignant is the attention it gives to the agency of women, to determine the power of the erotic as a way of empowering women to tell very specific stories around gender and sexuality across borders.”

Moldavsky, clearly emotional and somewhat speechless, went on stage to collect the award.

“It is a great honor, because the short films in the program were so great and so courageous and it is such a pleasure to see new and innovative cinematic language in all of the films. It’s good to have his spot, it’s good that we here,” she said.

The grand prize of the festival was awarded to "Touch Me Not" by Romanian first-time director Adina Pintilie, which explored sexual intimacy and the fears around it.

The experimental docudrama follows the story of a woman who can’t bear to be touched and various other people searching for intimacy.

Pintilie admitted that the honor was unexpected.

“But it is so important that this is coming because we would like that the dialogue ‘Touch Me Not’ proposes opens to the world, so we invite you, the viewer, to dialogue,” she said.

Polina Garaev is i24NEWS' correspondent in Germany.


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