The return of the repressed 219 day 5 the very

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The Return of the Repressed / 219 day.” 5 The very exhibition of an Israeli film on a Palestinian issue certifies, as it were, the reality of democracy and reassures the liberal conscience of both the producers and the receivers of the images. The refusal to censor or prohibit the films did not, however, exempt them from semiofficial obstacles, at times, engendered by the self-same preoccupation with images, this time from a more rightist concern with the negative impact of projecting a critical picture of Israel. An unproblematic film within the country can become controversial when distributed abroad. When Hamsin was shown at the Israeli Film Festival in New York, for example, the General Consul of Israel in New York decided not to lend official backing to the festival and not to take part as a major speaker because the “film might hurt the image of Israel.” 6 (The Israeli economic representative in New York and the Center for the Israeli Film in Jerusalem, however, gave support to the screening of Hamsin in New York.) In the case of Israel 83 , a compilation of six short films made by various filmmakers, whose common theme is the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and more precisely the effect of the occupation on the occupiers, classical censorship was applied. Yehuda Ne’eman’s episode, The Night the King was Born ( HaLaila bo Nolad haMelech ), was originally censored by the Council of Criticism of Films and Plays because the film defamed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and would provoke storms among the Arab population, 7 as if “storms” on the West Bank depended on the reproduction of abuses on celluloid. The censorship order was canceled only after a protest from the producer (Tzavta Theater). Whereas most of the episodes tended toward absurdist symbolic tales such as Yigal Bursztyn The Anguish of Dr. Vider ( Yisurav shel Dr. Vider ) and Ram Levi’s Survival ( Hisardut ) or toward psychological drama as in Shimon Dotan’s Souvenirs from Hebron ( Mazkarot meHevron ), The Night the King Was Born focuses directly and in a realistic style on the violent expropriation of land carried out on the West Bank with the support of the army. This directness provoked the ire of the censors, who, although formally prohibited from censoring on purely political grounds, could nevertheless, according to the enabling 1928 law (inherited from British colonialism), refuse or allow permission to a film “according to its view.” The producers’ legal defense was obliged to contest the censors’ argument about the distortion of the IDF’s image by citing cases in which the army actually used its power to force Arabs to sign papers. Thus the censors were obliged to permit the film’s screening, managing only to excise some footage showing the army’s physical abuses, on the grounds, ironically, of “morality.” 8 The films at times face obstacles at the production stage. In the case of Nissim Dayan’s A Very Narrow Bridge , the filming suffered from the very pressures and barriers discussed in the film. A Very Narrow Bridge , which revolves around a

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