So often the news about the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians takes into account only the conflict and dissension. However, the collaboration between Tel Aviv-based prodco Provid and West Bank-based prodco Waves is evidence that parties on both sides are able, and willing, to work together. Their coproduction, Two States of Mind (w/t), examines the relationship between two women – one Israeli, the other Palestinian – as they attempt to overcome their differences in the name of peace.
On the surface, Naomi and Achsun have much in common – both are actresses and peace activists – but the region each calls home separates them by more than simple geography. Naomi, a 36-year-old Israeli, lives in Tel Aviv with her boyfriend. Achsun, a Palestinian, lives with her two children in Ramalla, on the West Bank; her husband, a high-ranking PLO fighter, was killed in battle.
Naomi and Achsun’s commitment to peace brings them together at an unlikely destination – a women-only jeep rally in the Moroccan Sahara called Trophy Aicha De Gazelle. Neither woman has experience with this kind of competition – making their way across the desert over the course of nine days, with one jeep and one tent – but both accept the invitation to attend as partners on ‘the peace team’.
Once the competition begins, so does the bickering. The peace team misplaces their compass and gets lost. In addition, the political Achsun wants to talk about issues, while Naomi prefers to sidestep such discussions in the name of peace. As the days pass, however, they grow more supportive of one another and their teamwork leads them out of the desert.
Six months after the rally (around the time of the Al Aksa riots in October 2000), Naomi and Achsun finally confront one another over their differing political positions in a telephone conversation. They butt heads over such issues as children in war, education, victim versus aggressor, and Jerusalem. There is no revelatory resolution to their disagreements, but they hang up the phone as friends.
Budgeted at around US$250,000, Two States of Mind (w/t) is scheduled to wrap by August. Tel Aviv-based Cinephil is distributing and Israeli broadcaster TELAD is also on board.