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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Olive Harvest

By Brooke ComerNovember 11, 2003

Palestinian director Hanna Latif Elias has pulled off a feat that few world leaders, let alone filmmakers, could manage; he made his feature film debut, "The Olive Harvest," in Ramallah, Palestine's cultural center, with an Arab cast and an Israeli crew ... More...

A Jarmaq Films presentation. Produced by Kamran Elahian. Co-producers, Sharbel Elias, Kayo Hatta. Directed, screenplay by Hanna Elias.May 13, 2003, 5:04pm PT With: Raeda Adon, Maazen Saade, Taher Najeeb, Muhamad Bacri, Arren Umari, Samia Kazmuz.By DENNIS HARVEY

A sleeper hit at the S.F. Fest, Hanna Elias' "The Olive Harvest" effectively integrates a simple, involving tale of romantic love, tradition and family loyalty into the larger climate of unease in a Palestinian countryside vulnerable to aggressive Israeli settlers ... More...

Jerusalem slate fuels debateFest pushes political envelopeBy Melanie GoodfellowJuly 16, 2003

JERUSALEM -- Unfolding against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Jerusalem Film Festival has a tradition of screening politically controversial films that hit a raw nerve locally, and this year is no exception. Drawing criticism from both sides of the conflict is Palestinian Hanna Elias' "The Olive Harvest," a romance set in a Palestinian village surrounded by Israeli settlements that screened in fest's panorama section Sunday. Employing a Palestinian cast and Israeli crew and shot in the Palestinian Authority, pic revolves around a young woman who falls in love with two brothers... More...

Digits/Gambits & Gadgets in the World of TechnologyThe Credits Roll
By Nick WingfieldMay 1, 2003
Technology Journal
Within Silicon Valley, Kamran Elahian is one of the high-tech industry's best-known "serial entrepreneurs," who seem to create companies only a bit less frequently than some people buy shoes... Mr. Elahian, 48 years old, is the producer and primary financial backer for "The Olive Harvest," a first feature by Palestinian director Hanna Elias that had its premier last week at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Mr. Elahian agreed to back the film, a love story set against the backdrop of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, after meeting Mr. Elias, a former humanitarian worker, on a sojourn to the Middle East. The Iranian born Mr. Elahian said he funded the film in part, because it promised to show a perspective he believes is underrepresented in media coverage. "It is showing that Palestinians are people, too," he says... More...

The Olive HarvestJulie McCarthy ReportsJuly 22, 2003
Morning Edition
The Olive Harvest drew acclaim as the runner-up at the San Francisco Film Festival, and recently made its Middle East debut. Two brothers, one a former Palestinian political prisoner who sees no future in violence, and the other a low-level official who fights Israeli settlements, fall in love with the same woman. ... More...

Mixed Reception for Palestinian Film Nick WingfieldMay 1, 2003
The audience were quickly drawn into the film, the first full length feature for Elias. The cinema rang to the sounds of laughter as they connected with the characters and the struggles of love versus obligation and the conflict between young and old. "It was very, very beautiful," one women said afterwards. "We are human beings first and we must think about love, not just about the Israeli army and jails, that's why the film is so beautiful..." . More...

Captivating Raeda Adun stars in film made in PA
By Goel PintoJuly 15, 2003
Romance with olive harvest as backdrop to be screened today in Tel Aviv

Recently it seems as though there is no such thing as an Arabic language film - Israeli or Palestinian - without the presence of actress Raeda Adun.
During the past year, two films in which she starred came to Israeli screens -"Trumpet inthe Wadi" by Slava and Lena Chaplin, which a year-and-a-half ago took first prize at the Haifa Film Festival and the Israeli Academy Award for the best drama, and Ali Nasr's "In the Ninth Month," which last year won the Jury Prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival. OnSunday, there was the premiere Israeli screening of another film in which she stars: "The Olive Harvest," directed by Hanna Elias...Adun's presence in the film, as in all the films in which she participates, is captivating, in part because of her enchanting smile, the mysterious sexuality she radiates and her piercing eyes... Elias, a Palestinian director who has been living in California for the past several years, studied sociology at Jerusalem University and film at UCLA. He filmed the movie in the Palestinian Authority, during the olive harvest season, with the participation of scores of extras who live in the area. Very few films have been made in the PA, and this fact makes this film especially interesting...

Propaganda film or message of peace?
By: SHIRA SCHOENBERG. Jerusalem Post. Jerusalem Jul 16, 2003. pg. 08

... Filmed by an Israeli crew with Palestinian actors (there was even a brief fling between a Palestinian man and Israeli women during production, revealed Elias), Elahian called the final product a "message of peace." ... After the film, actor, Taher Najeeb, said "I wanted to make a Palestinian film about love without mentioning the [Israeli- Palestinian] conflict. In that, we failed, because it's impossible. If I have one request, it's to end the occupation because I want to make a film without having to mention occupation."Elahian said he produced the film because "The world needs to see the side of Palestine that I see. Americans see only images of suicide bombers. I see many of the most beautiful people, on both sides. Why they can't co-exist, I don't understand... " More...

The Cinematic Verses May 13, 2003
After seeing the world premiere of The Olive Harvest at the 46th San Francisco Int'l Film Festival, we had to speak with its creator, Hanna Elias. The film serves as one of the first narrative films written by a Palestinian, showing life in Palestine from their perspective. Since film in general has become, for better or for worse, one of the most influential ways that people learn about the rest of the world and its history, the importance of this film cannot be understated. The fact that it is also a passionate and compelling account of a family, written and performed in such a way that anyone can identify with the characters, just makes it that much more astonishing and enjoyable an experience. Once we sat down with Hanna, we realized that the passion infused into every line of dialogue in the film effervesces through his conversation in the real world too. Read on, for an illuminating look at filming a world you've likely only seen on the 11:00 o'clock news. More...

The Cinematic VersesMay 5, 2003
A man returns to his village in Palestine to a hero’s welcome, praised for being a political prisoner. Although Israeli settlers are encroaching on their olive groves, the main conflict of the film arises when he falls for the same girl his younger brother has secretly been courting. The story is a drama between two brothers, two sisters, a mother, a father, and an olive tree that takes care of the village. Although the film is set in the middle of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the story stays focused on the two brothers, and the younger sister Raeda (Raeda Adon). In doing so, the film makes its points gently and affectionately, in the context of family, tradition, and love — universal values that surreptitiously bind the audience to the main characters.
The film does show the dehumanizing experience of getting through checkpoints, and the squeezing pressure that Israeli settlements place on Palestinian farmlands, but these issues are just the background for the family struggle at the forefront of the picture. This delivery stands in stark contrast to the documentary method, or the confrontational style of other passionate filmmakers like Michael Moore or Oliver Stone. More ...

San Francisco Film SocietyApril 2003
Palestinian Hanna Elias’s first feature snares its intimate cast of characters in a tightening web of emotional obligations—to family, self and country—with a classical economy of storytelling and an eye for dramatic conflict. Mazen has just been released from an Israeli prison for setting fire to an Israeli settlement site, which, if finished, would have demolished his village’s all-important olive groves. His younger brother Taher has fallen in love with the beautiful Raeda—a love kept secret because, by tradition, older brother Mazen must marry first.
And Raeda’s father Muhamad, the patriarch of the groves, is dying, and seeing in Mazen’s sacrifice to save the olives a protector for the groves once he’s gone, pushes Raeda to marry Mazen. Meanwhile, there’s Raeda, torn between these two worthy brothers, but only in love with one of them. How does one choose between passion, respect and obligation?
The Olive Harvest shows how, for Palestinians, even a love story is inseparable from the struggle over the land. The olive trees, nurtured by generations, are a literal statement that Palestinians have roots in Palestine. Israelis are seen as the destructive intruders. The Olive Harvest is an unparalleled opportunity to see an impassioned Palestinian point of view to which Americans are rarely exposed.
Steve Mockus


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