The other ‘Other Israel’: Film fest comes to Bay Ridge with Palestinian focus

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Palestinians are front and center as a popular Israeli film festival unveils a spinoff this weekend in Bay Ridge.

From Nov. 19-21, the Alpine Cinema will host the Palestinian-centric offshoot of the Other Israel Film Festival, featuring four films made by up-and-coming filmmakers.

The Other Israel fest — whose name refers to minorities within Israeli society — has always been diverse, but this is the first time that organizers have left Manhattan with the specific goal of highlighting Palestinian films. And the four films in question represent a radical departure from the stone throwing, bulldozing, and terror-tarnished depictions in the media, instead capturing people on an intimate level.

“The politics are really not interesting to us,” said Zabar. “We’re interested in art for social change. We want personal films that touch people and take them out of the news mentality.”

With its large Arab-American population, Bay Ridge was a logical choice for the offshoot mini-festival, said founder Carole Zabar and executive director Isaac Zablocki.

“We chose Bay Ridge because that’s where a lot of Palestinians are and that’s where they’re going to feel more comfortable going out to see these films,” said Zablocki.

If all goes to plan, the two organizers hope to make the Palestinian Spotlight an annual event — which is good news for film fans.

“What’s going on right now in the Middle East is so awful. These films offer a bit of hope,” said Zabar. “This isn’t the Israel of the travelogues or headlines, it’s about people’s lives and their hearts.”

The Other Israel Film Festival at Alpine Cinema [6817 Fifth Ave. between Bay Ridge Avenue and 68th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 748-4200], Nov. 19-21. Tickets $11, $5 for students. For info, visit

Updated 12:23 am, November 17, 2010
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