Iran-Israel filmmakers unite in Venice

Venice hosted an unprecedented collaboration between Israeli and Iranian filmmakers, who say there are similarities between their governments and hope they can set an example for greater unity between their people.

"Tatami", shown in the "Orizzonti" ('Horizons') section of the Venice Film Festival, recounts the story of an Iranian judo star who rejects her government's rules about never facing an Israeli athlete in an international competition.

It was jointly directed by award-winning Iranian actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi, and Israel's Guy Nattiv, known for the recent Netflix biopic of Israeli ex-prime minister Golda Meir ('Golda').

"At school, I was taught that Israel does not exist," said Ebrahimi, who also stars as the judoka's trainer.

"We are not allowed to work together, to meet, to make friends or compete with this imaginary enemy," she told AFP.

Ebrahimi, who now lives in exile in France, won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival last year for her part in "Holy Spider" as a journalist tracking down a serial killer of prostitutes in the Iranian holy city of Mashhad.

"In Iran, filmmakers can't really speak the truth. They can work on these subjects but it will only ever be half-truths," Ebrahimi added.

Iran's crackdown on filmmakers was underlined again last month with the detention of director Saeed Roustaee, given six months in prison for screening his film "Leila's Daughters" in Cannes last year "without authorization."

His arrest was denounced around the world, including by Martin Scorsese.

Nattiv said there were parallels between their two countries.

"Miraculously, you can see that in Israel and Iran the same kind of revolution is going on," he said.

"In Israel it's against what...

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