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Israelis cast aside differences

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A new Israeli film, Ajami, which opens in the UK this week, tells the story of co-existence amid mutual suspicion in the eponymous neighbourhood in Jaffa – chosen because this is a district where Jews, Muslims and Christians are able to live together as neighbours, despite their emnity.

The film, itself a Jewish-Arab collaboration by Jewish writer/director Yaron Shani and his Arab-Israeli colleague Scandar Copti, tells the stories of a small group of characters.

Nasri is an Arab teenager whose family is caught up in a feud; Malek, a Palestinian, has entered Israel illegally to find work in order to finance life-saving surgery for his mother; Binj is an Arab who dreams of a future with his Jewish girlfriend, and Dando is a Jewish police detective whose soldier brother has gone missing.

The film, whose cast is made up entirely of non-professional performers, was shot chronologically and improvisationally. The process took over seven years to complete.

Scandar and Yaron comment: "From the beginning Ajami was going to be a project about the human side of this community. We felt that dealing with the human side is the only way to address the big issues that are behind everything."

The film, which has a certificate of 15, is being released at selected cinemas around the country.

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