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From Ramallah to Berlin

Muayad and Rami Alayan

February 2015

Palestinian filmmaking brothers Muayad and Rami Alayan presented the world premiere of their debut feature Love, Theft and Other Entanglements in the Berlinale's Panorama section this week. The film was developed at a British Council-backed workshop in Ramallah.

The brothers remembered how important it was for them to attend the EAVE Workshop for Palestinian producers, writer-directors and writers in Ramallah in September 2013, as one early step in getting their first feature made.

The workshop, supported by British Council, included sessions and advice on project development, co-production strategies, pitching and presentation. Experts on the course included British Council's Rachel Robey, UK producer Samm Haillay, and French script consultant Jacques Akchoti.

Even something like the crucial decision to shoot their film in black and white was influenced by their workshop experience. "EAVE was excellent, the tips were amazing," Muayad remembers. "We discussed shooting colour vs black and white, the choice of going to which festivals, it was very helpful."

Love, Theft and Other Entanglements is about small time criminal Mousa, living in a Palestinian refugee camp and stealing Israeli cars to make money to move abroad. But he finds himself in a ridiculous situation when he finds a kidnapped Israeli soldier in the boot of one of his stolen cars.

They co-wrote the script together, with Muayad directing and Rami producing and also handling production design. The low-budget film was shot in just 22 days. They financed it with their own savings and borrowing funds and favours from friends and family, with an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to finish the post-production.

Everyone pitched in on set, with Muayad's former students from Dar Al Kalima College in Bethlehem joining the crew, and Rami even acting as a falafel seller and Mouyad using his own car as the stolen car in the film. "We all try to wear as many hats as we can," Rami adds.

They went to the workshop with two projects on behalf of their production collective Palcine, and started with the more guerrilla style Love, Theft and Other Entanglements. The second film, also to shoot in Jerusalem, is a larger project that will seek European co-producers. The pair are co-writing the script now and Rami explains, "It’s about a Palestinian couple and Israeli couple in Jerusalem dealing with a social issue. It’s personal but it's wrapped in the political context."

Have a look at the UK Films at Berlinale 2015 here - and read about our UK 'Shooting Star' - the extraordinary Maisie Williams here.