Israeli-directed film about Arab rapper wins big at Tribeca

‘Junction 48’ by Udi Aloni, a story of a young artist fighting Jewish prejudice and Arab repression, takes home Best International Feature award

Israeli film director Udi Aloni (Channel 10 news)
Israeli film director Udi Aloni (Channel 10 news)

An Israeli-directed film about an Arab rapper’s experiences as he forges his artistic path in the mixed city of Lod won Best International Feature at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday.

Junction 48 by Udi Aloni tells the story of hip-hop artist Kareem and his singer girlfriend Manar as they battle the prejudices and discrimination of Israeli society, as well as the conservatism and violence of their own community.

In February, the film won the top audience award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Aloni, the son of the late Meretz party leader Shulamit Aloni, courted controversy at that time when he blasted Israel’s “fascist” government and urged Germany to stop supporting the Jewish state militarily.

Ahead of a screening of his film at the festival, the director was caught on camera criticizing the current Israeli government, which he called “fascist,” according to a report on Channel 10 news. He also urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop providing Israel with submarines to advance its policies.

The film received financial support from Israel’s Culture Ministry, according to the report.

Aloni later told Channel 10 his comments “were directed against the Israeli government and not against the country, which I love. In contrast to the prime minister, who spreads hatred, my movie spreads love and coexistence.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev said in response to the report that Israel should not fund films that slander the country.

Regev said Aloni’s statements were “clear proof that artists who subvert the state, defame it and hurt its legitimacy should not be funded by the taxpayer. A sane country should not assist slanderers and denouncers who malign it, immediately after drinking from its coffers.”

Director Udi Aloni and actors Tamer Nafar and Samar Qupty discuss Junction 48:

Junction 48 actress Samar Qupty told Reuters in February she saw the hip-hop film as revolutionary.

“We are representing ourselves by the new generation without trying to prove anything to anyone, with our ‘goods’ and ‘bads,'” she said. “We are trying to present what is the real new generation is trying to do, without making the reality looking any better or any worse.”

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