Israel Snubs the Infidel

Katherine Levy - Thursday 8th April 2010

Israeli film distributors have snubbed David Baddiel's new movie The Infidel, which has its world premiere in Hammersmith tonight.

The comedy, about a Muslim who realises he is a Jew, has received widespread critical acclaim from the British media and has so far been bought by 62 countries around the world, including strict Muslim states such as Iran.

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However, Israeli film distributors have decided to give the movie the cold shoulder. Actor Omid Djalili, who plays the lead character Mahmoud Nasir, said: "Maybe Israeli distributors want the character to be a Jew throughout the film or perhaps they are concerned the film will be seen as anti-Semitic. We don’t know. There’s still an offer to buy it for Israeli audiences, but they’re unsure."

David Baddiel told the Jewish News: "Israel should buy the film. If Jews and Muslims can laugh together The Infidel could finally create peace in the region. Maybe."

Uzma Hasan, one of the producers of the film, said: "We had a running joke in production that one of the reasons Israel might not like it is because Nasir doesn't end up a Jew. Perhaps they might want to re-cut it. When we were first looking for distributors, they were a bit wary and we had to convince them that it comes from a place of comedy and love. Being Muslim myself and with David being Jewish, I felt I could convince them. While Muslim countries love it, Israelis seem more tentative."

Hasan added: "We were more frightened about a Fatwah, but the Muslim communities – and the Jewish communities, have been so positive. We held a showing at the Coronet Cinema in Notting Hill and invited 400 young people from the Jewish and Muslim communities who loved it. They got every single joke."

Hasan said that despite showing the film to numerous Israeli distributors, no one has officially come forward to make an offer. She said: "Perhaps they are waiting to see how it does in the UK first or they might think it's not something Israelis want to watch." She added that the precise details as to why distributors refuse to purchase a film are not always given.

Nevertheless, the producers are hoping that Israeli audiences find out about the film and see it if they wish.

Hasan said: "We hope the Israelis change their minds. We hope that they come to the negotiating table with open hearts."

- Heard the one about the Jewish Muslim? Read our interview with David Baddiel on page 15

Read the latest copy of The Jewish News Online by clicking here.

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