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June 3, 2016 4:29 am

Israeli Who Won First-Place Award at Cannes Student Competition Says Not All Art Hailing From Jewish State Reflects Palestinian Conflict (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Israeli filmmaker Or Sinai won first prize in the Cinéfondation student film competition at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for her film "Anna." Photo: Facebook.

Israeli filmmaker Or Sinai won first prize in the Cinéfondation student film competition at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for “Anna.” Photo: Facebook.

An Israeli filmmaker who won the top award at a competition at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival last month told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that not all films made in the Jewish state need to examine the conflict with the Palestinians — and that hers is a case in point.

“My film has no politics in it,” said Or Sinai, whose short film, Anna, won first place in the Cinéfondation student film competition. “Its story doesn’t reflect the ‘situation’ at all.”

“I guess when you’re outside of Israel, you think the conflict is something Israelis have to confront every day, but as an Israeli — as someone who has lived in Israel all my life — it’s simply a fact of life. Of course, there are periods when it is more on one’s mind, like two summers ago, during the war [Operation Protective Edge against Hamas terrorists in Gaza], which was horrible. But I don’t feel as though I create films about other subjects that they are some kind of therapy for the situation.”

Anna, which stars Israeli actress Evgenia Dodina, tells the story of a single mother who finds herself without her 10-year-old son for the first time in years, so she decides to roam the streets of her desert town in search of a man to be with, even for that one day. Sinai, 31, won a $16,800 cash prize for the 24-minute film, as well as a guarantee that her first full-length film will be screened at a future Cannes festival.

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The Tel Aviv resident said she is now focusing on writing the script for the feature film, which she said will have a similar character and location to those portrayed in Anna, but there will be a different story line. Anna was Sinai’s graduate project at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem.

The Cannes winner said at first she did not know what kind of career she wanted. In her early 20s, she decided to study psychology, but changed course.

“I applied to all different universities, but something in me was really afraid that if I attended university, my entire creative side would die,” said Sinai. “I have been writing ever since I was a little girl. I have like 20 notebooks about my life, and I used to take drama lessons and dabbled in photography. So I thought, maybe I need to try films, because it’s a combination of a few things I like. So I thought, OK, I’ll try it.”

It was then that someone told her about the Sam Spiegel school, and applied, though still hesitant about it, even after getting accepted. Sinai, who has three siblings, said she is glad she gave it a try, however, explaining that during her studies there, she “fell in love with films” and realized that making movies was what she wanted to do in life.

Talking about her award, she told The Algemeiner, “I still can’t grasp it. Getting into Cannes was such a big surprise that it felt as though I had already won the prize. But actually winning was a complete shock.”

Sinai said her entire family helped her with the production of Anna. “They had no choice,” she said.

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