A ground-breaking Palestinian film has garnered death threats for its director as well as the actors who star in the film.
In Between follows the life of three young Palestinian women sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv — away from the watchful eyes of their families.
In an interview with the BBC, 35-year-old director Maysaloun Hamoud, said she expected some backlash about the film, “but I didn’t know how big it would be.”
The film follows three women – a liberal lawyer, an aspiring DJ who is a lesbian and a religious cousin.
Hamoud, the daughter of Palestinians, grew up in Budapest but now lives in Jaffa, Israel. “Palestine has a young cinema and there are not a lot of genres here yet,” she said. “I think there was actually a lot of confusion here when the film first appeared as to whether it was a documentary or a fiction film…characters like this haven’t appeared in Palestinian cinema before.”
The film includes the underground Palestinian scene in Israel and features nightclubs, drugs and homosexuality.
“I knew when I started to write these characters that it could not be passed by, but I did not expect the extent of the reaction,” said Hamoud, relating to the level of violence to which she has been threatened because of the film.
After the film was declared haram (forbidden), the death threats began. However, once the initial weeks passed, which Hamoud described as “scary,” she realized “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
The commotion increased interest in the film, which had a successful run in the cinemas.
Acknowledging the characters “represent the things that we have never talked about in our society before,” Hamoud admitted she “wanted to take provocative action, we need to shake things up and see different things on screen. If we keep making things that people think they want to see, then it’s not art, it’s not cinema.”
Hamoud views her job as an artist to develop society, which to her means changing reality. “The essence of an artist is to bring change,” she said. “All three characters represent huge amounts of invisible women, women who have never had their voices raised before in cinema from this part of the world. Finally, the film has made people talk about it and I’m glad.”
The film is nominated for 12 Ophir awards (Israel’s Oscars) and Hamoud given the best young talent award by the Women in Motion movement at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Watch the trailer to In Between (with English subtitles):