At the Jerusalem Film Festival this week, I had the opportunity to see an extraordinary short drama, Yellow Mums, by Firas Khoury. The film is a morality tale about Nizar, an altar boy in his village church in the Galilee. He is a loner, persecuted by the other boys in the village because he doesn't wear sneakers like they do, and also because he's quiet and not one of the gang. The other kids call him "sandals" and there is a fair amount of cruelty displayed by the other boys.
Easter is coming, and the priest of his church tells them to give their Easter eggs to Jesus. With the upcoming game of competing with each other to collect eggs by seeing whose painted egg is harder, Nizar cheats just a little because it's very important to him to win the game and give his eggs to Jesus.
Nizar's scheme is finally found out by the other boys, but he's saved by the mob of kids by a woman for whom he once did a good deed.
The title refers to the fields of flowers, and how the children are out picking flowers, while the Israeli jets are flying overhead.
Hopefully, the film, which was beautifully photographed, will have a distributor soon! The film is a short drama, 32 minutes.
The filmmaker participated in a coexistence program that I directed at the Jerusalem International YMCA a few years ago for beginning filmmakers. After the participants took part in a dialogue group, followed by an extended conflict resolution program hosted by the YMCA of Greater Hartford, they were provided with an intensive film incubator program, in cooperation with the Gesher Multicultural Film Fund. This film is the first "fruit" of that program.
Added on July 18 -- The film was awarded a prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival 2010 for best independent Israeli short film. The remarks of the jury were:
“A well-directed, acted, and filmed movie portraying a beautiful story of redemption and atonement. We identified with the rejected characters who manage to create a world of their own and reach out to one another.”