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Films Without Borders' short screens at LFF

Short film featuring three young film-makers interviewing George Lucas screened to an audience including Prince Edward

Three young film-makers from Rwanda, Israel and Palestine were in London last night (Oct 27) for the screening of their short film Things I Learned From George as part of the 54th London Film Festival. 

Omri Bezalel from Israel, Rwandan Pierre Kayitana and Ismail Al Qaisi from Palestine presented their short film, which features the trio interviewing Star Wars director George Lucas, to an audience at London’s Apollo Cinema . The three film-makers also edited the short, which also screened in Cannes this year.

The project was developed with help from an initiative run by  charity Films Without Borders, lead by TV producer Jill Samuels, which aims to provide support to young film-makers from troubled countries to help launch their careers.

After the screening, guests were treated to a champagne reception at the Lanesborough Hotel, which was attended by Prince Edward, who described the film and the charity’s work as “fantastic”.

Christina Estrada Juffali, who runs Films Without Borders with Samuels, said: “I’m very proud to give a hope of an idea all around the world. It’s extraordinary to watch what one initiative can do. I feel that we’ve got something that can do really well.”

Other guests included director Mike Newell and National Film & Television School head Nik Powell, who is teaming up with Films Without Borders to send graduates from the NFTS out to Rwanda, Israel and Palestine to help train up locals to run their own film courses.

The three young film-makers are now working on their first features.

New York Film School student Omri Bezalel, from Israel, is working on the script for his first feature, about a musician from Israel who comes to New York. “The theme is the difference between reality and fantasy. I believe in the script, so I hope everything will come together,” said Bezalel.

Meanwhile Rwandan film-maker Pierre Kayitana, who is also the director of the Rwandan Film Centre, has written the script for his first feature, Return Ticket, which will be shot in December in Rwanda.

“In my country the film industry is very small. I want to go back and keep on doing what I do, trying to push the film industry in my country,” said Kayitana.

Finally 23 year old Ismail Al Qaisi, who is currently studying at the Met Film School in London, is preparing to make his final year feature before gaining experience in the UK film industry.

“Lots of people I know in Palestine love the media and films, but they don’t have the chance to get involved. So when one of us has the chance, we have to use it, for the people of my country,” Qaisi told Screen Daily.

“Every day in Palestine there is a new story. But no one knows about us. I want to be an ambassador for those stories. My future plan is to work in the film industry in England and gain as much experience as I can and then go back to Palestine to run a film school,” he added.

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