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Acclaimed Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri, who latest feature, The Insult, is among the nine titles still in the running for best-foreign-language-film Oscar, is working on a project about the Camp David Accords, the noted 1978 negotiations that led to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
“I’ve always been fascinated by what happened behind closed doors, because what the politicians said to the public doesn’t necessarily mean what really happened,” Doueiri tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Over 12 days of secret meetings in Maryland’s famed presidential retreat, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin signed a treaty, brokered by U.S. president Jimmy Carter, that was considered a watershed moment in Middle East history. It would see Israel hand over the Sinai Peninsula, which it had occupied since the Six-Day War, back to Egypt, and go on to earn both Sadat and Begin the Nobel Peace Prize.
“There was a lot of dramatic movement in those days; you have Jimmy Carter, a very religious Christian guy, Sadat, a very pious Muslim, and Begin, very Jewish,” says Doueiri. “You have these three opposing religions and they made it, and it’s the peace treaty that helped — it didn’t fall apart and it’s still holding.”
The project is still in the script stage, but Doueiri, who has been reading numerous memoirs from those who were present, says there are plenty of “cinematic experiences” and “human dramas” to work on.
“It’s been written about from very different perspectives,” he says. “There were a lot of people involved, but everyone has their own take on it, so I’m trying to study different points of view to examine what really happened behind closed doors.”
Doueiri, who got his start as an assistant cameraman on Quentin Tarantino films Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, had his breakthrough as a director with his award-winning 1998 debut West Beirut, which bowed in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight sidebar. His 2012 feature The Attack, telling the story of an Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv whose wife is the main suspect in a suicide bombing, became a cross-over commercial success, grossing $1.7 million in the U.S.
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