Israel: Bedouin city Rahat to host 2nd International Film Festival in February

Caroline Haïat

Digital Journalist | @carolinehaiat

4 min read
Film Festival
Daniel AlterFilm Festival

Numerous panels, debates and discussions will also be held around cinema culture

The second edition of the International Film Festival will be held in February 2024 in Israel's largest Bedouin city, Rahat, for the second consecutive year.

Last month, several films were presented at the Sarajevo Film Festival in Bosnia, including one by Israeli-Arab director Yousef Abo Madegem, who won an award for his film “Zira” about the 2008 Israeli military operation in Gaza.

For the second edition, which will take place from February 9 to 17 at the Rahat Cultural Palace, the rich program will include Israeli films as well as those from Albania, Bosnia, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt.

Yosef Abu Zeila
Yosef Abu ZeilaCultural Palace in Rahat, Israel.

“We want to expand cultural cooperation with these countries through cultural events like this,” Daniel Alter, producer and artistic director, told i24NEWS.

“We expect a lot of visitors for this new edition. During the Bosnia Festival, we presented four Israeli films and they were all wonderfully received,” he added.

Among the films that will be shown is the documentary Jonathan Agassi saved my life" by Tomer Heymann – about the life of Israeli gay porn star Jonathan Agassi – along with documentaries "High Maintenance" and "Comrade Dov” by Barak Heymann.

"This year, we have brought some new features to the Festival,” explained Alter. 

“First of all, it extends over a period of nine full days and not over weekends like the previous time. There will be two big ceremonies: one for the opening and one to close the Festival, where many activities will be organized. Finally, we will have the chance to receive Israeli but also foreign screenwriters, directors, and producers, which adds exceptional value to the event.”

At the same time, numerous panels, debates, and discussions will be held around cinema culture. 

Films for children and young people will also be screened, as will contemporary films translated into Arabic or Hebrew. With this all-public event, the organizers hope to attract a large population from the four corners of the country.

"We believe that this activity promotes the field of art and culture in Bedouin society, but also in the Jewish community. One of the primary objectives of the Festival is for Bedouin and Jewish adolescents to study the art of cinema and return to the south to create similar initiatives,” said Alter.

"In parallel with the development of theater and the visual arts, our mission is to develop cinematographic art in the south and there is nothing better than an international festival to begin this project. I hope that we can also bring Palestinian films and Palestinian guests to the Festival.”

The south of Israel suffers from a lack of budget allocated to the cultural sector and struggles to develop activities despite numerous initiatives. According to Alter, however, it is indeed one of the solutions to eradicate the violence raging in Arab society, where nearly 200 people have been murdered since the start of the year.

“Crime and violence in the region can always deter people from attending the Festival but we are among those encouraging them to take the plunge and come to Rahat,” Alter concluded.

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