Auditorium - DAMSLab > 14:30

Arab Israeli Dialogue / Imagine Peace

Introduced by

Michael Rogosin


Friday 28/06/2019


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

In 1974 I made Arab Israeli Dialogue, which was a film about a subject that had long been on my mind since I had long standing ties with Israel, going back to the founding of he state in 1948. My father had started a major textile operation there in 1957 on my impetus and I had tried to pull together a low-budget feature for Israel’s tenth anniversary. When I was living there in the early 60s, I became involved with the peace activists associated with the magazine New Outlook and started working on activists associated with the magazine New Outlook and started working on a scenario for a film called The Semites that was to trace Arab-Jewish relations throughout history. I was once again unable to finance the project, but ten years later, an impassioned dinner-table conversation in New York between my two friends, Palestinian poet Rashid Hussein and Israeli journalist Amos Kenan, inspired me to make Arab Israeli Dialogue.
This film, shot in two afternoons and edited in as many weeks, consists of another spontaneous conversation between Hussein and Kenan with some additional footage that I had shot in Israel in 1953. It was a very simple film, very crude, but very honest and very different from what was being made at the time. It was criticized by extremists on both sides, yet many people liked it because it was different. Public television gave it back to me as if it were a bomb.

Lionel Rogosin (excerpt from Autobiography)

With Arab Israeli Dialogue, the Cineteca di Bologna is proud to return to a subject that had been briefly interrupted. Our goal is to reclaim the entirety of Lionel Rogosin’s ouput, in collaboration with his heirs. The films which we have restored in previous years (On the Bowery, Come Back Africa, Good Times, Wonderful Times, Black Roots), and to which we will return to create new digital masters, have amply demonstrated the great value of Rogosin’s cinema and have led to a much-needed international rediscovery of his work.
Rogosin was a director characterised by a profound humanity and driven by an incessant curiosity. His cinema dives into life headfirst, without taking sides, and as a result its form is renewed with each new film. In the coming years we can expect great things: the psychedelically tinged inter-racial love of Black Fantasy (1972), the struggles of the lumberjack cooperatives in Mississippi and Alabama in Woodcutters of the Deep South (1973), and the vertiginously surreal fantasy of Oysters Are in Season and How Do You Like Them Bananas (1966). We believe that each of these titles will leave an indelible mark.

Andrea Meneghelli

Cast and Credits

F., M.: Louis Brigante. Int.: Rashed Hussein, Amos Kenan. Prod.: Shunmugam A. Pillay, Lionel Rogosin per Impact Films. DCP. D.: 40’. Bn / Col.


Film Notes

In 1973, Lionel Rogosin, the pioneering independent American filmmaker – On the Bowery, Come Back Africa – made the first ever documentary film about an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, held between Israeli journalist/peace activist/iconoclastic patriot Amos Kenan and Palestinian poet/PLO spokesperson Rashid Hussein. This was also Rogosin’s last film. His son Michael has made a moving and thought-provoking film about the film, called Imagine Peace. He recently screened the original film on the wall of the “Palestine-Israel Journal” offices in East Jerusalem, the only joint Israeli-Palestinian publication, and heard the editors, some of whom knew both Kenan and Hussein, make observations about the 1973 dialogue, and comments about where we are today. We see Hussein say “the victims have become victimisers”, and Kenan say that “all people should be free”. Kenan’s daughter Shlomzion says that “Kenan introduced the term ‘occupation’ into the Israeli lexicon”.
Lionel Rogosin was clearly inspired by American optimism, the belief that all conflicts can be resolved. His son Michael follows in his father’s footsteps, and tries to understand whether this is still possible today. Film critic Janine Euvrad who was involved in the creation of the original film, says that “films can’t bring peace or war, but they can inform”. Imagine Peace is a must for anyone concerned with the fate of Palestinians and Israelis and the quest for peace in the Middle East.

Hillel Schenker

Cast and Credits

DCP. D.: 79’. Col.