A Slim Peace is a hybrid film which has its roots in observational
From Park Avenue to Trailer Park, whether you are a high society grande dame or a Jersey Shore girl, folds of fat are folds
of fat. The desire to be thin is one of the great unifiers. It's an area of
great intimacy and vulnerability, and even in the context of the overarching
violence and conflict of the Middle East, the same holds true.
The documentary follows a group of women who come from disparate social,
political, economic and religious backgrounds. All women live in the same
locality but have never come into contact with one another. These women are
united over a six-week course of weight loss classes to fight for the common
goal of losing weight. The meetings take place in the Cinematheque,
right on the border between the two communities in East Jerusalem. A Slim
Peace sees whether something as universal as dieting can trump
political/socio/economic differences and bring these women to understand each
other on a different level when they are meeting for a common goal.
The tone of the film is quirky and humorous and provides a keyhole into a
different life. The world's cameras are pointed at the conflict taking place
in the Middle East, but A Slim Peace provides an opportunity to see a
different side of the people who live side by side with that conflict.
Director: Yael Luttwak
What inspired the film, A Slim Peace?
I grew up to believe in a Jewish state. At 21, after graduating from the
University of Rochester I joined the Israeli Defense Forces and became a tank
gunnery instructor. I was committed. My soldiers Hezbollah guerillas. I never
killed anyone, but I was a good instructor. Sometimes I wonder how
responsible I am for the deaths of others. Terrorists or not, self-defence or not, it is horrible.
I finished the military and have worked in film and television ever since. In
2000, still living in Israel I produced a teen television talk show with
Israelis and Palestinians. For the first time, I became friends with
Palestinians. That is when the shift happened. I was reluctant to share my
military service past with my Palestinian colleagues.
How did you make the connection between weight loss and peace?
That same year, I lost ten kilos and we lost the Camp David peace accords. I
connected the two. Losing weight and making peace. Maybe this was the
solution. Maybe if we all feel better and healthier about ourselvesä
I made a film to find out and created my own weight loss group ≠ A Slim
The issues I was interested in exploring were around eating, weight, women's
bodies in both Jewish and Muslim cultures. Obviously, at the film's centre is
the subject of empathy. Can two groups of women who live so close to each
other, Palestinian and Israeli, who would ordinarily never speak, lower their
barriers? The device through which they are encouraged to do this is the
intimate and vulnerable arena of a weight-loss group.
How did you persuade the women on both sides to come to the group?
The group followed best-practices principles and followed a course planned
out by the facilitators, the heads of nutrition from the Haddassah
Hospital ≠ one Palestinian and one Israeli. It was a really great program we
It was also really important for the group that the location be neutral, so
all women would feel on an equal footing. With this in mind, I chose the Cinematheque building in East Jerusalem. From the
fourteen women, I made an attempt to choose a balanced group. I particularly
wanted to focus on voices who would normally never speak to each other. From
the fourteen women, I then focused in on four viewpoints more closely during
the film ≠ there is one Bedouin; the voice of an older generation, a Jewish
woman who was born and raised in Jerusalem; a couple of American Jews from
Bat Ayin and Gush Etzion
provide the voice of a younger generation and finally a Muslim Arab from
Ramallah completes the four.
What do you make of the outcome of the group and the film?
The extraordinary and entertaining results are not simply interesting to
Jewish or Muslim audiences, but the themes of antipathy and empathy make this
film something of interest to any audience familiar with conflict.
DIRECTOR/CO-PRODUCER – Yael Luttwak
Yael graduated top of her year from London Film School with two
award-winning short films distributed by Brit Shorts. Luttwak
initiated, organised, and facilitated a twelve part
television series with Israelis and Palestinians MEETING POINT broadcast on
Israeli Channel 2 and the Palestinian Broadcasting Authority, and recently
assisted Mike Leigh on his sell-out play at the National Theatre, Two
Thousand Years. This is her first full-length documentary feature.
PRODUCER – Charles Lambert
Lambert wrote and produced the independent feature film WOLVES
OF KROMER. It has been theatrically distributed in 8 countries with
glowing reviews. It has also become a top-selling DVD occupying the
number one position in the US Gay DVD sales chart. Since WOLVES OF
KROMER, Charles has become a Doctor in Screenwriting (PhD at East Anglia
University) and is writing and developing new projects through DISCODOG
EDITORS - John Mister
John Mister has extensive credits, including the recent
BULLETBOY, and long association with documentary including work with Nick
Carol studied at the National Film and Television School in the
UK and since then she has worked as a freelance editor on many award-winning
documentaries and drama.