Before film director and scriptwriter Suha Arraf approached the New Israel Fund (NIF) [sic - not the NIF - EoZ] to produce Villa Touma (2014)—her first fictional film as a director—she applied to a number of Arab corporations for funding, but didn’t even receive a reply.It was shown in a number of film festivals, although Arraf insisted that it be called a "Palestinian" film rather than an Israeli film. Some film festivals decided to say that it did not come from any country.
“I knocked at many Arab and non-Arab doors. Had a single corporation responded, I would not have gone to that fund [NIF]. But what can I do? Arab donors seem to have no objection about me going to the NIF,” Arraf told Asharq Al-Awsat. She added: “As for the media, it is attacking the film aggressively for being funded by the Israeli state.”
This issue has affected other Palestinian film directors in the past, including Mohammad Bakri and Elia Suleiman. There seems to be no Arab cooperation or investment in Arab films directed by Palestinian filmmakers living in Palestine, yet there is a distinct readiness to accuse a film director of “selling themselves” for receiving Israeli funding.
Egypt, however, didn't like the taint of Israel that the film had:
Egyptian authorities have confiscated the film “Villa Touma” – which was written and directed by Arab-Israeli director Suha Arraf – preventing the film from being screened during the Alexandria Film Festival in Egypt.After the Alexandria Film Festival closed, officials explained its disappearance this way: "The festival's organisers were unable to secure a copy of Villa Touma by Israeli-Arab filmmaker Suha Arraf."
The film was registered as Palestinian but was made with primarily Israeli public funds, including $400,000 from the Israel Film Fund.
“Egyptian Customs reserved the film’s copies, and we will not be able to display it within the festival,” said film critic and festival director Amir Abaza.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Film Fund is upset that a movie they funded is not being credited to their country, and they want their money back. Arraf argued back that she can define herself however she wants and that her tax dollars pay for the funding like any other citizen's.