Sunday, August 2, 2015

The High Stakes of Living on the West Bank

Boston University professor and Screenwriting Program director John Bernstein once said this about the dramatic film Snovi, adapted by alum Reshad Kulenovic from his short story: "One of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen here at BU."

High praise. Next weekend, Kulenovic (pictured), a Bosnian native, will premiere his newest effort at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. While Snovi was 15 minutes long, documentary 100 Million Dollar House runs 54 minutes to tell a compelling, intertwined Israeli-Palestinian tale. From the writer-director's description:

A Palestinian family living under military occupation is offered 100 million dollars for their modest home. A former Israeli soldier struggles to come to terms with his past as he prepares to travel back to the West Bank, where he once served. Their paths intersect in the holy city of Hebron - the most hotly contested area in the West Bank.

There's some extra significance attached to the location of the film's premiere. Kulenovic teaches film at the University of Rhode Island and is also involved in the festival's annual five-day intensive program KidsEye: Summer Filmmaking Camp.

It seems hard to believe, but per the documentary title and re-confirmed this weekend by Kulenovic in the Providence Journal, that Palestinian family has indeed been offered nine figures for their modest property. Kulenovic also revealed to arts writer Andy Smith that once he is done with screenings, 100 Million Dollar House is locked in for TV broadcast with a most suitable partner - Al Jazeera:

Kulenovic said he did not make an explicitly political film. Instead, 100 Million Dollar House shows the impact of politics on the lives of ordinary people on both sides. "I'm trying to show the everyday experiences of people who live at the epicenter of conflict, the little things, how they get through the day" Kulenovic said.

Thanks to Snovi, Kulenovic was one of nine finalists in the 2011 Student Academy Awards "Narrative" category. The Gold Medal winner turned out to be Thief, by AFI student Julian Higgins.

[Photo via: LinkedIn]

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