Dir. Nissim Mossek
2007 80 min. Israel/Palestinian Territories
Hebrew and Arabic w/English Subtitles
"Citizen Nawi" tells the story of Ezra Nawi, the driving force behind the protection of Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills who regularly face attacks from their Jewish settler neighbors. The South Hebron Hills have recently turned into the "wild west," where the strong rule and the weak are silenced. Nawi works to change this situation. He embraces the necessary fights and arrests, assists in the Arab olive harvest and in digging wells, and also organizes day camps for the Arab children. Ezra has committed himself to the cause of the South Hebron cave dwellers. Saving them has become an essential part of his life.
Ezra, a plumber by trade, ignores the police harassment. He has lost count how many times he has been arrested and interrogated, due to his activities in the South Hebron Hills. At the same time Ezra is fighting a personal battle for the rights of Fuad Mussa, a Palestinian from Ramallah and an illegal resident chased by Israeli law enforcement officials. For a while Fuad and Ezra lived together in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem, not far from the Prime Minister's and the President's residences. As a couple, they stood out in the neighborhood. Surprise visits from the police, arrests, and violence, were all part of their daily routine.
Over the past few years Nawi has consistently stood by Fuad. Though Ezra has been unwavering in his commitment to his partner, it is he who is grateful. His experiences with Fuad have opened his eyes to the continuing injustices of the occupation, and stirred his consciousness in the fight for human dignity.
Ezra Nawi manages to break every possible stereotype. He is the boy from the poor Sephardic neighborhoods who fights for Arabs' rights; a plumber who is close friends with an Irish Member of Parliament; and a homosexual who is not afraid of beatings from settlers and cops and is always ready for the next round.
Ezra undermines the Jewish settlers' efforts to expel the local Arab population. He exposes their malicious behavior to the Israeli public and files complaints with the police. The settlers consider him an enemy worse than the Arabs and his life is under constant threat. He also finds himself engaged in stormy quarrels with ultra-orthodox Jews in Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade. Yet through it all he retains a blazing wit and sharp human observation that allows him, and us, to see as never before what it means to be trapped by one's circumstances while still committed to resistance.
Special Mention, Jerusalem Film Festival