Between laughter and tears, the viewer follows the journey of 9 Arab and Jewish women during a video workshop
Cinema Sabaya, the new film by Orit Fouks Rotem released on the big screen in Israel on September 1, features 9 Arab and Jewish women, employees of the town hall of Hadera, who take part in a very original video workshop. Indeed, this course led by the young Rona, interpreted by the actress Dana Ivgy, offers a new space for discussion to these women of all ages and socio-professional backgrounds and allows them to compare their points of view thanks to audiovisual supports. that they themselves will create.
Through several exercises proposed by Rona, the 9 protagonists will have to film moments of their lives and share them during the course, offering real debates, often overwhelming, but also sometimes terribly hilarious.
Between solidarity and differences
Both comic and dramatic Cinema Sabaya, is actually a real mise en abyme. In front of Rona’s camera, the film opens with a short presentation of the 9 women, who talk about their family situation and reveal their biggest dream. From the outset, this scene allows the viewer to detect these personalities that are both very complex and endearing, imprinted with suffering, joie de vivre, submission, rebellion or even naivety.
Whether they are a reserved and submissive mother of a large family, a frankly outspoken grandmother, a childless bisexual living on a boat, a rebellious young single, divorced or a bourgeois married woman who is unhappy in her relationship, these women are all united. around a common goal: the quest for personal happiness that they have obviously not yet found and the realization of their dream as a little girl.
Depression, domestic violence, homosexuality, relationships outside marriage, the independence of women, or even divorce, the wearing of the hijab and hair removal among young girls… Real exchanges then arise from differences customs and traditions between Jews and Arabs. Surprised or admiring at the path of the other, some women do not hesitate to advise each other but also to assert their opinion, at the risk of offending.
By creating a group dynamic through the successive meetings between these women who did not know each other at the start, far from any cliché, the director wanted to show the reality of relations between Arabs and Jews today in Israel. A desire to get to know the other despite positions that are still well anchored.
On several occasions, the viewer witnesses violence and clashes that break out following disagreements inherent in the identity of women.
However, in different scenes, female solidarity springs forth. Rona plays sound clips for the group. A dispute between neighbors where the husband insults his wife then reminds one of the Jewish participants of the violence she suffered with her ex-husband and begins to burst into tears. She is consoled by the Arab grandmother. In the following scene, Eti, a Jew, claims that she has never dated Arab women and that she does not know them, even adding that after the Hadera attack, she changed sidewalks when she saw a woman. veiled, throwing a chill in the room. Vexed and offended, Arab women ask her why she fears Arabs so much? A general argument then ensues around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Eti asserting that the Arabs do not want to make peace and Arab women declaring that the Jews kill children and are settlers.
The alternation of these scenes, both funny and sad, constantly reminds the viewer of the ambivalence in which these women live and the limits of living together.
Cinema Sabayacrying out for truth, attempts to depict attempts at rapprochement but certain beliefs on one side as on the other persist in people’s minds.
Nasrin, who has always dreamed of becoming a singer, records a title behind a green screen with an improvised staging by Rona. The young Souad, 35 years old and mother of 6 children, wants to learn to drive but her husband categorically refuses. In a role play with a woman who plays her husband Ibrahim to perfection, Souad loses his footing and throws himself violently around the actress’s neck, forgetting that this is a game. In this scene where the fiction has overtaken reality, disoriented Rona understands that not all issues can be resolved behind closed doors.
Cinema Sabaya offers us a panel of intense reflection on the cultural gap between the Jewish and Arab communities by emphasizing the scourge of ignorance that gnaws at Israeli society.
Caroline Haïat is a journalist for the French site of i24NEWS