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By Swantje Stein

BERLIN (Reuters) – An Arabic-language hip-hop film featuring mostly Palestinian actors and directed by an Israeli won a prize as an audience favorite on Saturday at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Director Udi Aloni’s Junction 48 took the Panorama Audience Award for best fiction film. The film Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? by Tomer and Barak Heymann was voted best Panorama documentary.

Junction 48 tells the story of a Palestinian rap star and his girlfriend who live near Tel Aviv in the mixed Jewish-Palestinian city of Lod, known until recently as one of the main drug-running centers of the Middle East.

Actress Samar Qupty said it should be easy for Palestinians to identify with the movie, even though it depicts people living lives that are radically different from strict Muslim traditions.

Her character, for example, allows a picture of her face to be used on a poster advertising a hip-hop concert, prompting members of her family to say they plan to injure her if she performs.

“It’s still a revolutionary movie because it doesn’t talk about the way we Palestinians are usually represented in the world,” Qupty said.

“We are representing ourselves by the new generation without trying to prove anything to anyone, with our ‘goods’ and ‘bads’,” she told Reuters in an interview.

“We are trying to present what is the real new generation trying to do without making the reality looking any better or any worse.”

Director Aloni was pleased with audience reactions.

“We are all so optimistic because we also brought some young kids that we gave them tickets, you know 20 years old, that don’t know anything about us and they adore it.

“So probably the choice of having Tamer, he is so charismatic, and hip-hop that is so universal, it was a very good move.”

Singer Nafar doesn’t expect everybody in the Middle East to love the film but he is confident it will open up a debate.

“It’s going to open a stage and I think it’s very important and the movie is not here to give solutions, the movie is here to raise the right questions,” he said.

(Editing by Michael Roddy and Digby Lidstone)

Photo: General view of the ‘Berlinale Palast’ main screening facility prior to the awards ceremony of the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany February 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hansche

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