Student films are fascinating to watch -- even though they might not be the best films cinematically speaking, they offer a glimpse at the subjects and issues facing young people today. In a cross-national collaboration produced by the Film and TV Department of Tel Aviv University, Coffee-Between Reality and Imagination (Artistic Director: Yael Perlov, 2011), we are given the chance of seeing films by young Palestinian filmmakers (2 documentaries and 2 dramas) and Israeli filmmakers (4 dramas).
The Palestinian Films
Of all of the Palestinian films, my favorite is The Clock and the Man by Gazi Abu Baker (drama, 11 minutes), based on a story by Samira Azzam. This is a very special tale about a young man named Fathi who gets a job as a clerk in a government office. On the morning of his first day of work, he discovers that an elderly man named Abu Fuad (Mohammed Bakri) wakes all the government workers in the town so that they can get to their morning train on time.
Wajeh by Murad Nassar (documentary, 16 minutes) is about a coffee vendor at the Kalandia checkpoint near Ramallah. The different metal gates and pathways make it seem like the workers are caged animals. Wajeh is witness as the checkpoint fills with people trying to get to work early in the morning and they talk about the terrible reality of everyday life with these checkpoints.
Sense of Morning by Maysaloun Hamoud (drama, 9 minutes), inspired by Memory of Forgetfulness by Mahmoud Darwish (1987) is an art film about the siege of Beirut in 1982.
A Cup of Coffee from Palestine by Kareem Karaja, Ameer Ahmarwo, Murad Nassar (documentary, 8 mintes) is about the bitter life stories of Palestinians living in the Al-Amari Refugee camp.
The Israeli Films
My favorite of the Israeli films in this collection is Tasnim by Elite Zexer (drama, 11 minutes), about a 10-year-old Bedouin girl living in a neglected village in the Negev. When her father appears in a surprise visit, she runs to bring him coffee. But she is surprised at the circumstances of his visit.
Audition by Eti Tsicko (drama, 14 minutes) portrays an encounter between Haled and the female director/actress with whom he is auditioning to work. At first awkward, their encounter develops. The line between fiction and life itself becomes blurred.
A Trip to Jaffa by Eitan Sarid (drama) is a story of two illegal Palestinian construction workers who want to buy a ring for one of them who is getting married. His family was from Jaffa, so they set off to find the same jewelry store where his grandfather originally bought the ring for his grandmother. But things are different from what they imagined.
Eva is Leaving by Aya Somech (drama, 15 minutes) is about a husband and wife who run a coffee shop. He has become newly-religious and it is a point of contention between them, especially when he becomes obsessed that a cup of coffee from a non-kosher take-out pace has spilled over the vegetables in the kosher kitchen of his coffee shop.
This set of 8 short films is available from Tel Aviv University -- firstname.lastname@example.org