Bollywood Delegation Visits Israel

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- For years, filmmakers from India have screened movies at the Jerusalem Film Festival, but now they want to take relations to a different level.

A delegation from Bollywood -- India's filmmaking industry -- came to Israel recently in search of new opportunities.  

"Sometimes things like films, which connect people to people, can be very productive and very effective and can really bring people together at a human level," said Priya Tandon of Project Interchange, a branch of the American Jewish Committee, which brings people to Israel for a week of travel and learning.

Filmmaker Bobby Bedi said Israel and India are a natural fit.

"We are both sort of very, very strong in both technology and entrepreneurship. So I believe that even in the area of media, we can do stuff together for the world market, rather than just trying to look for the limited opportunities in each other's countries," Bedi said.

The filmmakers agreed that today's globalization of issues brings people together as never before.

"I think [the] United States, Israel, India…there is a lot of common ground out there, whether it is democracy, facing terrorism, cultural issues, [or] bad neighbors," filmmaker Abhishek Sharma said.

"You know we have issues that we share and so it will be exciting if something is done together," he said.

Many of the visitors were surprised by the "real Israel."

"Most of us through the international media with the sort of things that we get to know about Israel are…like, you know, very aggressive and sort of….it is causing a lot of pain to others. When we are here now, what we are able to figure out is that you guys are actually trying to make a normal life -- live a normal life," producer Vinod Kumar said.

The Bollywood filmmakers said they would like to use Israel's history as a backdrop to their films -- [as a] scenario or as a location.

"I think if I had one wish, it would be to film in the Old City [of Jerusalem]," Bedi said. "It's just the most intriguing location there is. It's the whole multi-racial, multi-religious labyrinth that exists that is so exciting," he said.

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