Magazine article Variety

New Directors Bloom in GREENHOUSE

Magazine article Variety

New Directors Bloom in GREENHOUSE

Article excerpt

Marwa Jbara Tibi is no stranger to working behind the camera. A Palestinian from the northern Israeli village of Taibeh, she spent 25 years as a video journalist and producer, linking up with crews from CNN, Al Jazeera and other major networks when they would come to Israel to cover the Middle East.

What she isn't used to, she admits, is having the freedom to tell her own story. That came when she quit journalism, and decided to try her hand at documentary filmmaking. Now, there's plenty of freedom, but hardly any cash.

Tibi is exactly the kind of filmmaker that Israel's New Fund for Cinema and Television hopes to enable with its Greenhouse Women program. The project, launched in early 2014, brings together female Arab and Jewish filmmakers for a yearlong mentored crash course in pitching and peer-to-peer editing. The Greenhouse program plans to soon provide grants averaging about $2,500 to each filmmaker to help them make a completed trailer and a 15-20 minute sample of their projects. Greenhouse also works with the filmmakers to help them apply for coin from local film funds.

While an arm of the broader Greenhouse Program has been operating for eight years across the Middle East, with cooperation from film funds in Turkey, the Netherlands, France, the U.S., Spain and Morocco, the femme-centric Israeli project presents a deeply revealing look at the diversity that exists across the tiny nation. With 12 filmmakers participating, and representing a cross-section of religions and backgrounds, it offers a rare opportunity for Israel's female citizens to connect not on religious or social grounds, but simply on the basis of their shared creative dreams.

"We are living in a place that is very political and very divided," says Sigal Yehuda, managing director of both Green- house Middle East and North Africa, as well as Greenhouse Women. "You need a level of understanding between people. It's not just (about) helping filmmakers to make extraordinary films, but also building this greenhouse, this place where you can have debates, where people can expose their inner worlds, all because you know that these documentary filmmakers are really bringing their own souls to what they are doing."

The movies are frequently personal. For Esti Almo Wexler, an Ethiopian Israeli, her film "Looking for Tena" chronicles her family's search for a long-lost relative who fled the family home in Ethiopia to live as a Muslim in Sudan. …

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