Cannes Honors Israeli Director

Karen Yedaya, Israeli filmmaker, has won the Cannes Film Festival “Golden Camera Award” (The Camera D’Or) for best film by a first-time director. The United Jewish Federation’s “Israel 21C: News Beyond the Conflict,” reports:

The film [called “Or”] tells the story of a mother and daughter: Ruthie, an aging prostitute in deteriorating mental and physical condition, who promises her 17-year-old daughter Or that she will leave her profession. But she is incapable of doing so. The film stars actresses Ronit Elkabetz and Dana Ivgy.

For Yedaya, making the film was not merely an artistic endeavor; it was part of a cause that is close to her heart. Yedaya has worked with former prostitutes and those working to get out of the profession, and has lectured about the problems of prostitution to government officials and mental health professionals. She said that she hopes to use the prize money to help build a halfway house for women trying to get out of prostitution.

“For many years I’ve been working with disadvantaged youth and with women who are trying to escape from the world of prostitution,” she told the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot while in Cannes. “A portion of the profits from this film will go towards this goal.”

She has always viewed her profession as a means to a political end

The official website for the Cannes Film Festival reprinted her acceptance speech:

“I would like to say a big thank you because it’s not easy to choose a film like mine,” declared the Israeli director. “This week has been like living a dream: my film has received a lot of love and also animosity. This proves to me that people want things to change. Thank you all […] I want to dedicate this film, from the bottom of my heart, to all the people who are not free, to all those living in slavery. I hope that with this prize we can construct a home for all women who want to get out of prostitution. It’s very difficult for me to say that because I come from Israel and we are responsible for the slavery of 3 million Palestinians. I love Israel; I love my country. But, please, there are many people in Israel who are fighting this occupation, help them, help the Palestinians.”

Islam Online has featured her in the news as well, giving a slightly more aggressive spin.

Famed Israeli director Keren Yedaya, who was awarded Saturday, May 22, the Golden Camera of the Cannes Film Festival, dedicated her prestigious award to the Palestinian people and other peoples who struggle under the yoke of slavery…

Yedaya used her award acceptance speech to lash out at the Israeli occupation troops, saying they humiliatingly enslave three million Palestinians…

She told France’s Le Monde newspaper on Saturday that she had frequently refused to cooperate with the state-run Israeli television, saying it introduces cinema “dressed in a military suit”.

“I want to create a different cinema that criticizes the Israeli politics and the occupation of the Palestinian territories,” she said.

I wonder why the UJF article chose not to include these quotes.

Anyway, I watched Yedaya give her acceptance speech, and it did not seem to me that she was “lashing out” at the IDF, though she did adamently call for support in helping the Palestinian cause. The audience seemed to agree, as they gave a nice round of applause upon the director’s mentioning of her critical love for Israel.

One thought on “Cannes Honors Israeli Director

  1. Such statements might some day do some real good in the world. Too bad for now the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more often than not a shameless proxy war between simplistic and alternately self-described and accusatory right-left global culture wars.

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