Art in the desert

Bedouin city Rahat to host first film festival

More than 40 films to be screened, including documentary by local filmmaker

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

From 'Jirah,' a documentary made by local Rahat filmmaker Yosef Abu Medigam being screened at February 2023 Rahat film festival (Courtesy screenshot)
From 'Jirah,' a documentary made by local Rahat filmmaker Yosef Abu Medigam being screened at February 2023 Rahat film festival (Courtesy screenshot)

Rahat, Israel’s largest Bedouin city, is hosting its first film festival over four weekends in February.

Some 40 films, including movies from Iran, Italy, France, Kosovo, Spain and Saudi Arabia, will be screened during the film festival at the Rahat Center for Fine Arts, which opened last February.

The event includes a premiere showing of “Jirah,” a documentary made by local Rahat filmmaker Yosef Abu Medigam.

“Jirah,” translated as “Borderlines,” is a 46-minute film about Khader, an artist who lives in Rahat with his wife and children while his extended family lives in Gaza, a 20-minute drive away that is all but impossible to make for anyone living in Israel.

The film takes place in 2008 during renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas, as Khader tries to find a way to visit his family.

Another film with local flavor is Ehab Tarabieh’s “The Taste of Apples is Red,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and whose screening will be followed by an audience talk with Tarabieh.

The movie tells the story of a respected Druze sheikh whose brother disappeared during the 1967 Six Day War and returns to the Golan Heights after living in exile for 47 years.

“Egypt Love Song,” which premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival, explores the story of Jews from Arab countries. In the documentary, filmmaker Iris Zaki journeys with her father through the unusual history of her legendary grandmother, Egyptian singer Souad Zaki.

The festival will screen a full array of current, award-winning films, including Cannes Grand Prix winner “The Hero,” from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, along with children’s films dubbed or translated into Arabic.

For more information about screenings and times, go to the Rahat Film Festival website.

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