Price of Kings Co-director Richard Symons reflects on the team's first day at the Jerusalem Film Festival, and the screening of our Yasser Arafat documentary.
Apart from the obvious nerves of actually screening the film on Yasser Arafat in Jerusalem, the after-film Q&A was my main cause of concern. The only way to figure out how rough a ride we were going to get would be to sit through it with the audience. Sold out, we'd given up our seats thinking it'd be no problem to simply slip in and out through the rear entrance. Except when we arrived at the cinema it became clear there was no rear entrance. Slipping in and out could only be done by a door to the left of the screen in full view of the audience,
We sat outside waiting to go on listening for clues. There weren't any. Couldn't hear a thing until the door opened and a steward appeared, ushering us in. Through the open door you could hear Suha Arafat's last lines on screen signalling the end music, credits. Light up and… applause. Phew.
Not to say we didn't face strong questions on the use of terror, corruption etc. and our perspective/handling of them, as well as one of the best questions we'd ever had on Arafats negotiations with Rabin post-Oslo and the Buruch Goldstein massacre in Hebron. The Q&A ran over to such an extent we had to continue it in a hall next door and it was clear many of the audience were coming to the Peres screening tonight.
Addendum - our Shimon Peres screening sold out. Word's come in the film's being debated on Israel's Ch1 news (BBC equivalent) tonight, will be fascinating to see the difference in the media debate.
By Price of Kings co-director, Richard Symons
Former Prime-minister of the Palestinian Authority Ahmed Qurei told us he would lie awake/fall asleep trying to figure out what attached a man to his land to the extent that he would die for it. He was convinced this was would yield the answer to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But somewhere in the equation was Jerusalem, somehow always defeating the answer. Even in the secret negotiations headed by Qurei that established the unprecedented Oslo peace deal - and certainly ever since. In fact any successful negotiations have had to studiously avoid terms on Jerusalem. Hard to imagine a city that's had more blood spilt over it.
Shimon Peres, Hassidic Jews, The Dome of the Rock, Suha Arafat, Guns and Prayers at Hebron Mosque, Yasser Arafat from The Price of Kings, Films 1&2
This weekend the Peres and Arafat films screen together with a Q&A session afterwards right in the belly of the beast - the Jerusalem Film Festival. As if the two films individually don't provoke enough passionate debate, Jerusalem, the place they fought over invites its people to compare the two sides of the conflict and leadership of Arafat and Peres back to back… almost like the city can't help itself.
Shame we're not showing the President Arias film there also - amazing to think that over the course of just four years, without an army, he could defy America and Russia to bring peace to five countries, an entire region, by simply getting 5 heads of state round a table, locking the door and telling them they weren't leaving till they'd thrashed out a peace deal.
Come to think of it, a shame he's not there to do the Q&A.
If you'd like to come to the bun fight (apparently the editors across the spectrum of Israel's national papers have signed up) there's info below…