Film Review: ‘The Wanted 18’

 

Only the tragically absurd Israeli-Palestinian situation could transform the simple act of milking cows into a perceived threat to national security, yet that’s the amazing story of Paul Cowanand Amer Shomali’s ingenious documentary, “The Wanted 18.” Mixing talking heads, a smattering of archival footage, and smile-inducing claymation, the helmers bring to life a time during the First Intifada when the residents of Beit Sahour, in the Occupied Territories, started a dairy collective. Highlighting the ridiculous without losing track of the seriousness of all acts of resistance, the film should open minds thanks in part to Abu Dhabi’s best Arab docu prize, spurring fest and targeted arthouse exposure.

The story holds special resonance for co-helmer/narrator Shomali, a Palestinian visual artist-animator whose family was intimately tied to the events. In 1988, during the early days of the First Intifada, a group of citizens from Beit Sahour decided they were tired of being forced to purchase all dairy supplies from Israel, so they bought 18 cows from a sympathetic kibbutznik. It was an anomaly on multiple levels: Palestinians have a sheep-raising (not bovine) culture, and beyond that, this was a community of academics and professionals, so they sent student Salim Jaber to the U.S. to learn the finer points of milking and animal husbandry…

Check out the rest of this review on Variety.com.