Locarno 2014 – Piazza Grande
Israel, early 1990s. Eyad, a Palestinian-Israeli boy from the town of Tira, is accepted into a prestigious Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem. He finds himself struggling with issues of language, culture, and identity – trying to survive and to find his way in a place where war constantly rages around him. He develops a bold friendship with Yonatan, a boy with muscular dystrophy, and falls in love with a Jewish girl named Naomi. Eyad realizes that in order to be accepted as an equal, in order to allay people’s suspicions, in order to work, to love, and, above all, to belong – he has to make personal sacrifices.
DANCING ARABS examines the complex texture of relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, the influence of regional events on the lives of the people there, and the journey of one young man looking for a way to break out of all the boundaries that await him in life.
A poignant real-life experience from Eran Riklis, the acclaimed director of ZAYTOUN, THE HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER, LEMON TREE and THE SYRIAN BRIDE.
Based on the novel by Sayed Kashua.
Though the fusion between (original book author Sayed) Kashua, a highly respected Israeli Arab journalist and columnist, whose prickly humor often rubs both Israeli and Arabs the wrong way, and (director Eran) Riklis’ more sedate touch, leads sometimes to contradictory results, the film points out in no uncertain manner many painful aspects of the co-existence between the large Arab minority in Israel and the Jewish state… The title, taken from the expression “dancing at two weddings”, refers to the dilemma of a population that has to live with both its Arab identity and Israeli nationality and the countless conflicts resulting from this double allegiance… Constant reminders of political strife, military actions, tense relations between Jews and Arabs who may look alike but do not act as such, are seamlessly inserted into the narrative, coming through in TV newscasts, street checks, road blocks, an unpleasantly ugly encounter with a gang of boorish hoodlums, or even through an unexpected interpretation of canonic Hebrew literature and its undercurrent of racial slants.
— Dan Fainaru, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL