As the sprawling, multidiscipli nary Negotiations event takes over Toronto for the next 10 days, there'll be countless encounters where Jews and Palestinians perform together, share work or simply talk. It can be an act of faith, a strategic move or a stunt.
One such pairing on Saturday has Palestinian filmmaker Michel Khleifi screening his work in collaboration with Israeli director Eyal Sivan. The two men travelled the United Nations' 1947 Partition Line to capture how life is lived along an imaginary divide. It's a testament to his work with Sivan that Khleifi wears its symbolism loosely.
"Eyal and I know we are very different directors," he says over the phone from Paris. "His style is not like my style. We just tried to film what we feel, what we see, and to be in the service of people. And we were receptive to whatever situations came up. We tried to protect the fragility of each encounter."
Khleifi and Sivan have been friends for years, and their lives have taken similar paths, but The Partition Line marks their first time working together. Sivan, who directed the Adolf Eichmann documentary The Specialist, was born in Haifa and now lives in Paris. Khleifi was born in Nazareth and is now based in Brussels. His 1987 film Wedding In Galilee was Palestine's first homegrown feature film.
Alongside The Partition Line, still a work-in-progress, Khleifi will also screen Ma'aloul Celebrates Its Destruction, about an annual Palestinian picnic on the site where Israel destroyed a Galilee village in 1948. Sivan will show his refugee camp documentary Aqabat Jaber, Peace With No Return?
For their collaboration, Khleifi says, "We wanted to go beyond the dialectic of two narrations, a Jewish narration and a Palestinian narration. We wanted to have one narration - the narration of the land, of the country.
"The partition route," he continues, "exists only on a United Nations map. It was never a reality."
But "if you travel along this partition line you understand many things about the logic of Zionist colonization. You can also understand the difficulty of having peace in Israel-Palestine without having a truth commission like in South Africa. If we want to stop the violence, the best thing is to start listening to each other."
Khleifi once made a film about intermarriage across faith and race lines in Israel-Palestine, and it's clear that it's those in-between spaces that interest him most. He even slides across the border between English and French as he speaks.
"In my films," he says, "I hope to continue to reflect the Palestinian experience not like something closed, but open. Open to receive as well.
"'Palestinian' is not a prison. It's a definition of a human experience - that's all. And the Israeli experience is a part of my experience, and I am a part of their experience.
"When I was a child," he recalls, laughing, "my father worked in a kibbutz in the centre of Israel. I would see him only twice a month. But I never thought that because he worked in the kibbutz and sometimes he would bring home ketchup that he was any less Palestinian."
I ask him what he thinks of the current wave of solidarity activists landing in the West Bank with video cameras, but his answer reflects on his own work as well.
"To witness is very good, to film is magnificent," he says, "but I believe in going beyond that. The eye that understands the complexity of the world is more important."
firstname.lastname@example.org Blurring borders