Can an Israeli football club, mixed of Jews, Christians, & Muslims, overcome a 40-year championship drought & difficult past by advancing further than any Israeli team in Europe’s most prestigious football tournament?
lies the Israeli city of Be’er Sheva. Home to the football club HaPoel Be’er Sheva, the city has equal number of Muslim and Jewish residents and sits only 20 km south of the West Bank. Hapoel Be’er Sheva was plagued by a 40-year championship drought until a new owner, Alona Barkat, came in with a vision of tolerance and acceptance. With this vision, Alona, the first woman owner of an Israeli soccer team, brought the club their long-awaited championship.
PLAYING FOR PEACE follows the journey of the team as they prepare for the UEFA Champions League match against Besiktas Turkey, having advanced further than any other Israeli team in history. The film enters the lives of two star players -- one Muslim, one Jewish -- as their team, fans, and the whole city prepare for this monumental match. More than just football, PLAYING FOR PEACE is a story of creating a team of champions with a culture of tolerance and acceptance. This team and fan base leave people questioning: if peace is possible on the pitch and in the stands, where else can it be possible?
Arielle (Thomas) Sabol is a director, producer and passionate storyteller. She knew she wanted to become a documentary filmmaker ever since her seventh grade teacher played a documentary and she saw how film could break down barriers between her and her classmates. Arielle started her career as a production assistant working on the acclaimed CNN docu-series CHICAGOLAND, which premiered at Sundance, and by the age of 26 she held almost every credit one could in production and post production, including field producing, story editing, and even grabbing the camera and shooting.
She works on projects and films that she thinks will illuminate issues or stories that most people might not know about or stories that will be thought provoking. Some of her favorite series and documentaries she worked on have been OCEAN WARRIORS (executively produced by Robert Redford) which traced activists, journalists and scientists working to fight poachers and organized crime in oceans across the globe, HBO’s CLASS DIVIDE which looked at NYC’s gentrification and growing inequality through the microcosm of one city block, and Emmy-nominated docu-seris FREEWAY: CRACK IN THE SYSTEM.
PLAYING FOR PEACE is Arielle’s directing debut.
We are honored and excited to announce that Playing For Peace received the HIGHEST award of all 91 films screened at the International Peace & Film Festival. Click here to watch director Arielle's acceptance speech.
We're excited to announce that Playing For Peace is an official selection at the Short. Sweet. Film Fest in Cleveland, Ohio. Join us to see the film on March 1. For more information on the festival click here.
We're so excited to be an official selection in our first Oscar-qualifying film festival! Playing For Peace, or Jugando por la paz as it's titled in Colombia, screened on December 11 in Bogotá at the Bogo Shorts Film Festival.
Read this blog post in the Times of Israel, written by director Arielle Sabol on her experience directing and producing Playing For Peace, and what she learned along the way.
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Tamar Yerushalmi Thomas
Marla Maritzer & Lisa McGrath
The Sherwin Family
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