11th Human Rights Festival hopes to promote global awareness

By Daweed Abdiel

Staff Writer

The Human Rights Watch is an organization that is devoted to protecting human rights.

The Human Rights Film Festival, presented by The Human Rights Watch, chooses films that communicate human rights abuses through storytelling, and their intent is that the public will become empathetic and be willing to be agents of positive change.

The The Wanted 18  is a movie chosen by the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

The film offers the story of how the Israeli army attempted to apprehend 18 cows in Beit Sahour.

Because the cows symbolized Palestine’s growing independence and autonomy, the cows threatened the national security of Israel.

On Nov. 2 Amer Shomali, one of the two directors of the film, and a Palestinian, made an appearance at Denison.

Students and faculty were able to ask Shomali questions about his development of the film during his inquiry session after the movie ended.

Shomali categorized the movie scenes into five different parts: interviews, archives, animations, talking narratives and drama scenes. With these elements Shomali was able to creatively tell a story not commonly told to the global public. He underscored that he wanted to provide viewers with a positive image of Palestinians.

Shomali also mentioned that negative depictions of Palestinians permeate the global media.

Shomali explains that he wanted to portray the friendliness and cohesiveness of Palestinians. The people of Beit Sahour innovatively combated their oppression from Israel by distributing milk. As a result, the people of Beit Sahour were able to become less dependent on Israel.

This rise of independence also created a stronger sense of harmony and community amongst Palestinians.

Using the common image of Palestinian demonstrations, Shomali provides a different perspective of the demonstrations.

Shomali noted that most televised demonstrations relating to Palestine show the crowd confronting the viewers, which almost makes it seem as if the demonstrators are threatening or attacking the viewer. Instead, Shomali provides the common demonstration scene from the demonstrators’ point of view. He explains that this allows the audience to sympathize with the Palestinians and not feel threatened.

Grace Rooney ‘19 said, “I thought The Wanted 18 gave interesting insight into the Israel/Palestine conflict. Using the cows was a creative way to allow us to understand many of the broader issues.”

When asked a question about the dark lighting during his interview scenes, Shomali explained that the dark backgrounds create an intimate setting, making the dialogue personal.

In addition, he explains that the dark interview scenes compliment the same lighting the Palestinians usually receive during interrogations. The dark interview scene also complimented his comic scenes that show the cows’ experience while being pursued. During the inquiry session, Shomali also revealed much about himself.

After enumerating the things he did poorly (cooking, dancing, etc.), Shomali ardently noted that art is the only way he knows how to express himself.

When asked her about views on the movie, Nina Mercado ‘19 stated,  “at first I didn’t know where the movie was headed but the turn of events to show how significant these cows were to the story was a unique representation. You think of Palestine and the first things you think of are the violent movies that are always shown, you never hear of their story in a ‘childish’ represented mode. It was educational, clever, and a movie I recommend anyone to watch.”

After the inquiry session, someone asked Shomali how Palestinians generally felt about the film: they love it.

The public felt a great sense of pride being extras in a film that attempts to help bring justice to their global image.

Shomali stands by the idea that his movie is more than a movie for Palestinians. He hopes to spark conversations about similar conflicts globally.

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