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Two Israeli films take Berlin festival prizes

BERLIN (JTA) — Two Israeli films that deal with the conflict with the Palestinians in much different ways were recognized at the 62nd annual Berlin International Film Festival.

The top Berlin Today Award went to the humorous short film "Batman at the Checkpoint" by Rafael Balulu. The 10-minute film was one of five finalists for the award, which goes to films produced in Berlin, though they may be filmed elsewhere.

A Caligari Film Prize honorable mention went to "Bagrut Lochamim" ("Soldier/Citizen") by Silvina Landsmann. The sobering documentary follows young Israelis completing high school education after military service. In Landsmann’s portrait of the post-military service educational program, the classroom represents a microcosm of Israeli society in which political and social issues are debated under the guiding hand of a wise teacher.

In a refreshing pause from sobering realities, "Batman at the Checkpoint" features 6-year-old Yuval, an Israeli (played by Yoav Saadian Rosenberg), and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud (played by Michel Abou Maneh), who are stuck with their parents in traffic at a checkpoint outside Jerusalem. The two cars sit side by side, and eventually the children get out and end up play fighting over the boy’s plastic Batman doll in an impromptu game of hide and seek.

The filmmaker re-created a checkpoint for the film, which jurors said "succeeds in showing us a well-known conflict by poetically re-setting it as a playful battle.”

The festival ended Sunday.

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