A Slim Peace is a hybrid film which has its roots in observational documentary.
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.
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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
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 Peace.
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 were offering!
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
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 Productions.
EDITORS - John Mister
John Mister has extensive credits, including the recent BULLETBOY, and
long association with documentary including work with Nick Broomfield.
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.