Powerful new short film is headed to Cannes as part of The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase.
A powerful new short film directed by Michael Horwitz, Tzeva Adom: Color Red tells the story of Ronit, a female Israeli soldier who forms an unlikely connection over social media with Omar, a young Palestinian boy. Addressing a complex topic, the film is directed with both a quiet subtlety and emotional depth, while providing a commentary on how social media affects us all, and particularly the world of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. “Many people only know of this conflict from what they see online,” Horwitz explains. “Politics are messy, but the message of the film is that there are real human beings who are caught in the middle and they all want peace for their families.” The idea that art and especially film can bring together two different cultures who for generations have been locked in conflict and help them see the humanity in each other is truly an inspiring theme.
The film features an ensemble cast of Israeli, Arab, and American actors who each brought their unique personal stories and experience to the project. Led by rising International Israeli actress Shani Atias (ABC’s 10 Days in the Valley) and veteran actor Danny Boushebel (Madam Secretary, Vice Principals, Stranger Things) the film is currently in a successful film festival run in the U.S. and abroad. The latest news – the film has been selected for the 2018 American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival next month. Director Michael Horwitz will be in France with the film where it will be available to show to all who attend the prestigious annual Festival De Cannes.
The title “Tzeva Adom” is a reference to the name of the alarm sounded when rockets are fired from Hamas militants in Gaza at towns and cities in Israel. Over the years, thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel and the city of Sderot where much of the film is set. The film also features Jabalyia, Gaza, the site of many IDF airstrikes.
One of the biggest challenges was to shoot the film in the native languages of the cast, both Hebrew and Arabic. For Horwitz, who grew up Jewish in Los Angeles and understands a little Hebrew, the challenge was daunting. “I was very nervous about doing a film in not just one, but two foreign languages. English would have been a lot easier, but also safer, so I chose to push myself and shoot in both Hebrew and Arabic which ended up bringing an extra layer of depth and authenticity to the project.”
Lead actress Shani Atias commented on how personal the story was for her because she formerly served in the Israeli army. She is originally from Israel and grew up in the coastal city of Haifa north of Tel Aviv. Her message is one of peace and she commented during the Q&A at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival where she received the award for Best Actress, that despite what people might see in the media or online, most Israelis want peace with Palestinians and she is living proof of that.
Danny Boushebel who plays the Palestinian father Abdullah, was particularly thrilled to be a part of this film also because of the subject matter. Originally from Lebanon and now living in Los Angeles, Boushebel has appeared in numerous TV shows and independent films. He has appeared on Showtime’s “Homeland”, ABC’s “Quantico”, “Madam Secretary” on CBS and in the first season of “Stranger Things” on Netflix. In addition to acting in Tzeva Adom: Color Red, Danny also served as the Arabic cultural consultant.
He really wanted to make the film feel and sound as authentic as possible, even so much as to coach the two young actors playing the Palestinian boys. Both have Arabic roots but needed help mastering the unique Palestinian dialect.
The film was mostly shot in the Los Angeles area. However, for true authenticity director Michael Horwitz, and his longtime collaborator and cinematographer David Sanders, (they met in film school at UC Santa Cruz 20 years ago) travled to Israel to shoot exteriors. Filming in the small town of Sderot, which is not your typical tourist destination in Israel as well as a viewpoint of Gaza at sunset was a highlight for both filmmakers. Shooting on the Red Epic camera with vintage anamorphic lenses, it was Sanders first visit to Israel. Together they also filmed in The West Bank to capture the Banksy graffiti art on the security wall which separates Israel from The West Bank.
The finished film is a proof of concept for a larger project that is currently in development. The intense short drama just won Best Narrative Short Film and Best Actress at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood as well as Best Narrative Short Film Award from the Joyce Forum of the San Diego Jewish Film Festival in February. The short can next be seen at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival on April 29th.
The film is produced by Todd Felderstein and C. Ashleigh Caldwell. The script is also written by C. Ashleigh Caldwell based on an original story by Michael Horwitz. For more news, upcoming screenings and behind the scenes of the production, please visit the website www.colorredmovie.com.
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