(89 minutes) Israel/Palestine/USA
Director: Shimon Dotan
Almost ten thousand Palestinians, designated by the Israeli government as "Security Prisoners," are incarcerated in Israel today. Most Israelis consider them murderers and criminals, but most Palestinians regard them as freedom fighters. Granted rare permission to film inside the country's highest security facilities, Israeli filmmaker Shimon Dotan shows everyday prison life, including bi-weekly family visits, internal elections, periodic security searches of cells, and relations between inmates and prison staff. HotHouse also features interviews with many Palestinian prisoners. HotHouse also makes it clear that the Israeli criminal justice system uses imprisonment to stifle or control Palestinian democratic political life, revealing that 13 prisoners, who were not involved in terrorist or military actions, were political candidates in the 2006 Palestinian elections, which saw the rise to power of the militant Islamic party, Hamas. In this regard, the film shows how Israeli prisons have become incubators for political education and debate, which often influences Palestinian society at large. The Palestinian experience in Israeli prisons has become a national symbol in Palestine, and the prisons themselves have become virtual universities for Palestinian nationalism, shaping the prisoners' ideology, strengthening their political convictions, and, as was the case on South Africa's Robben Island or in the H-Blocks in Northern Ireland, enabling the development of future political leaders.
Shimon Dotan was born in Romania, grew up in Israel, and is currently working in Canada, Israel, and the United States. Dotan, a fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities at NYU, is an award-winning filmmaker with ten feature films to his credit. His film, The Smile of the Lamb received the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and the award for best director at the Israeli Academy Awards. Dotan has taught filmmaking at NYU, Tel Aviv University and Concordia University in Montreal.
First Run/Icarus Films
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