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Film Review: “Dancing Arabs” (2014) ★★★★

dancing arabs

Is it possible for a Palestinian boy and a Jewish girl to live together happily ever after in spite of the tense relationship between their two countries? This may sound like a rhetorical question, however, the answer is masterfully stated in this quite impressive and totally realistic film DANCING ARABS, by Eran Riklis. This may not surprise you, until you sit and watch it… then you may have the answer to the question that has been asked for many generations now…; Is it possible for love to endure when there is no hope for it’s survival?’  When two people have strong feelings for one another, how far will they go to keep them alive and ultimately become a good example for others? Dancing Arabs is a film that will certainly help you to get closer to solving this puzzle…

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is ongoing. A Palestinian-Israeli boy named Eyad, has won a reality show and is sent to a prestigious boarding school in Jerusalem. There he can begin the new promising life his parents so wanted for him. But, once he enters this new environment, he struggles with issues of language, culture and identity. However, his biggest challenge is yet to come in the face of a beautiful Jewish girl, Naomi (Daniel Kitsis), when they begin to fall for each other. But when Eyad realizes that to live free from social conflicts, and to keep from being arrested for being an Arab, our hero does what seems for him his best option…

Dancing Arabs is a film that will attract the audience right from the beginning, when it throws us onto the roof of a building where we find Eyad smoking a cigarette, looking into the distance to where he used to live. Then the viewer is taken back to 1982, Tira, Israel, where a young Eyad is trying to manually fix a TV antenna climbing up very high, when he soon falls. However, this does not stop him from winning a prize for his family, when he gives the correct answer asked by a TV host, live on TV. Seeming intelligent beyond his years, Eyad is sent to the city to begin a new life as a teenage boy, opening the door to new possibilities.

As the film goes on, while at the school Eyad becomes best friends with a disabled Jewish boy, Jonathan (Michael Moshonov), and his mother, Edna (Yaël Abecassis, who delivers a beautiful and natural performance). In spite of the political relationship between Palestine and Israel, Eyad tries to find a compromise within the society he lives. He gets his chance when he becomes close with Naomi, who despite her parents objections, does not decline Eyad`s love for her.

Dancing Arabs is more a drama than a comedy because of the subject matter. Superbly directed by Eran Riklis, the Israeli filmmaker touches upon a very sensitive subject and tries to connect the dots between reality and dreams, and sometimes the two may not connect at all. Riklis manages to bring his film to a level where the viewer finds himself sympathizing with his attempt, and acknowledges that the meaning of identity is something called ‘legacy’. And, if that legacy is taken from someone, then all the past, the present, and the future for that person will cease to exist within a moment. After watching Riklis film, can we blame Eyad when he is left with no choice and his future is determined by someone else? I am sure, after seeing this film, your answer will be the same as mine…

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