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Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers #47: Hilla Medalia Demonstrates Power of Dance & Hope in 'Dancing in Jaffa'

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire April 15, 2013 at 5:1PM

Hilla Medalia holds a Master’s Degree in Film and Television from Southern Illinois University which she attended on a Track and Field scholarship, competing in the Triple Jump. She credits her love for films and passion for storytelling leading her to study film. The now George Foster Peabody Award winning director and producer has received three Emmy Award nominations and won the Paris Human Rights Film Festival Jury Award, Fipa Biarritz Jury Award, Golden Warsaw Phoenix Award, Faito Doc Grand Jury Award among others. Her latest project, "Dancing in Jaffa," is a project she hopes will inspire audiences in their personal journeys.
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Hilla Medallia

Hilla Medalia holds a Master’s Degree in Film and Television from Southern Illinois University which she attended on a Track and Field scholarship, competing in the Triple Jump. She credits her love for films and passion for storytelling leading her to study film. The now George Foster Peabody Award winning director and producer has received three Emmy Award nominations and won the Paris Human Rights Film Festival Jury Award, Fipa Biarritz Jury Award, Golden Warsaw Phoenix Award, Faito Doc Grand Jury Award among others. Her latest project, "Dancing in Jaffa," is a project she hopes will inspire audiences in their personal journeys.

What it's about: Pierre Dulaine takes his belief that dance can overcome hate & applies it to 11 yr-old Jewish & Palestinian Israelis. What occurs is magical and transformative.

On the importance of the film: "I would like the audience to know that, although we shot the film in Jaffa, hatred, prejudice and segregation are very much global concerns. Knowing that this dance program can be easily replicated worldwide and seeing the effect it had on the Jaffa community, I truly believe that this program is a must have in every community, especially ones that are dealing with similar issues."

On the challenges: "The main challenge for me was the sensitivity of these topics and my struggle to find the right balance, the precise wording, and the footage which would represent, on one hand my beliefs, and on the other hand also give the stage to all the different protagonists and their individual voices."

What she hopes Tribeca audiences will walk away with: "I would like to shine a light on the issue of Palestinians who are living in Israel, their history, their ongoing struggle, and, unfortunately, the gap that keeps growing due largely to the political status quo being as tense as it has been in the past years between Israel and Palestine. The last aspect is the unequivocal ability to create change, even in the face of staggering odds."

Films that inspired her: "Our producer Diane Nabatoff produced Take The Lead with Antonio Banderas, a narrative film about Pierre and his work. When Diane approached me and told me about Pierre going to Jaffa, I watched the film and was struck by the overwhelming realization that life is bigger then anything we could possibly imagine. I knew that the real Pierre could only be stronger. As far as other films that inspired me, I didn’t want to make a straight competition film; I wanted the competition to be a frame and for the stories of Pierre reconnecting with his Palestinian roots, and the personal stories of the kids to be the heart of the film as it is in films like ‘To Be and To Have’, which inspired me in making Dancing in Jaffa."

What's next: "I am co directing and co producing a documentary about Internet Addiction in China which has a Tribeca connection…among other supporters, it received the Tribecca Gucci film fund."

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.


This article is related to: Tribeca Film Festival, Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers