Mich’ael Zupraner and Naama Pyritz are the director and producer of Abu Naim, one of two Israeli projects selected for the first workshop of the first edition of Biennale College – Cinema. A hybrid of documentary and narrative techniques, Abu Naim is the cinematic adaptation of a real West Bank myth. It’s the story of the fantastical Abu Naim – a Jew by birth and an Arab by choice – as reenacted by the Palestinians he lives among. We caught up with Mich’ael and Naama and had a little chat about the experience of the workshop, about Abu Naim and about their future.
“I think the most valuable aspect of the workshop was that it forced us to make a lot of decisions in a very short time”, told us Mich’ael. “I had been researching the idea of the film for a few months before I had heard of Biennale College – Cinema, but the wealth of materials and possibilities I was juggling made it very difficult to figure out how the film would actually work”. And then comes the workshop: “The project really began to crystallize once we started working towards the workshop – and once there, the pace of development became quite ferocious”.
“Many of the ideas that came up during the workshop, in the intensity of its schedule, were eventually revised or dropped – but many others stuck through revisions”, added the director. “Ultimately the whole process was extremely helpful – knowing what this film is not was as important as figuring out what it is”. Abu Naim is still under development, and Mich’ael knows exactly how he wants it to be: “The film has taken a few significant leaps forward in the months since the workshop. We’ve completed a much more comprehensive treatment/script for the project, and are now busy with fundraising efforts both in Israel and abroad. A lot of the details are too sensitive to release at this point in time, but I think we feel very confident about being able to go into production sometime later this year”.
As for other projects, Mich’ael and Naama are both really busy working and developing other works. “I just completed work on a video installation at the Tel Aviv Museum, as part of an exhibition called Host and Guest, curated by Steven Henry Madoff and Hou Hanru”, told Mich’ael. Naama is working on a few projects of her own, first of all a new work by the artist Yael Bartana. But Abu Naim is waiting for them, and their “immediate future is very likely this film”, they said. “What could be better?”.