The inspiration for this story is grounded from personal experiences growing up as a Palestinian Israeli; an experience that unconsciously births engaging and dramatic material. Twenty percent of Israel's citizens are Palestinians who live in segregated villages and towns throughout the country. Growing up, our own communities and schools are not integrated into the larger Israeli society. After high school, many young people flock to universities and the work place where they must interact with the larger Jewish-Israeli population for the first time.
Leaving home is a major transition and time of self discovery for young adults across all cultures, but it is particularly unique to Palestinian-Israelis, who come to realize their status as second class citizens with full force. In the media, the struggle for equal rights is overshadowed by the larger political milieu of the region, and is lacking in personal stories of everyday people.
The first time a film had been shot in my hometown, Iksal. People had not seen a movie crew this close before. With the support of all of my family and friends, the experience was, unquestionably, an emotional one. And in a “stranger than fiction” moment that proves films a reflection of reality, many of the people in the town did believe that the radiation from cell phone towers does cause cancer.
So when we built a cell phone tower close to the village for the purpose of using it as part of the film set, the next morning we came to the set to find it fully destroyed. People left signs saying “No more radiation and cancer.” It turned out that some people thought it was a real cell phone tower… so we had to announce through the Mosque’s speakers in the village, during Friday’s prayer, that it was a part of the film set and it was not real… We were lucky that it happened during the pre production phase and not during shooting. In a way, it proved how accomplished our production team was in that our tower was constructed out of cardboard but looked that real.
As a filmmaker I feel the urge to tell stories about my own community and share these narratives with the world. While the political realities are, invariably, present in the film, the story ultimately reveals an upbeat and positive tone. Man Without a Cell phone explores all of the hopeful, frustrating, and hilarious moments that my community’s’ post-adolescent experience entails.