Sundance: HBO Picks Up Controversial Israel-Palestinian Doc 'Oslo Diaries' (Exclusive)
Directed by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan, the film features never-before-seen footage of meetings involving an unlikely group of negotiators — two Israeli professors and three PLO members — who met secretly in Norway in 1992.
HBO has acquired all domestic TV and streaming rights to The Oslo Diaries, a documentary that chronicles secret peace meetings between Israelis and Palestinians that took place in 1992. The film had its world premiere Jan. 21 in the World Cinema Documentary Competition section at the Sundance Film Festival.
Directed by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan, the film features never-before-seen footage of meetings involving an unlikely group of negotiators — two Israeli professors and three PLO members — who met secretly in Norway. To these unsanctioned meetings, the bitter enemies brought fiercely held convictions: the Palestinians saw occupiers, the Israelis saw terrorists, and both saw a history of failed negotiations. But united in the serious desire for peace, they continued through disheartening setbacks, escalating violence and fraught government politics, ultimately reaching an accord few thought possible.
Oslo Diaries is a timely geopolitical story, articulated through readings of the participants' diaries from the time, interwoven with exclusive interviews with key players, including the last on-camera conversation with former Israeli president Shimon Peres.
The film is sparking controversy in the Middle East on both side of the divide because it is unclear if the archival footage was ever meant to be seen. The deal plays out against the backdrop of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians as high as ever.
HBO will debut the film later this year to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords. The pay cabler had a busy Sundance, picking up Laura Dern starrer The Tale for $7 million and Rudy Valdez’s incarceration documentary The Sentence.
Executive producers include Guy Lavie, Koby Gal Raday, Danna Stern, Dagmar Mielke, Barbara Dobkin and Jean Tsien, while Hilla Medalia and Ina Fichman produced.
"We are humbled and excited by the warm hug our film has received from audiences at the Sundance Film Festival and thrilled with HBO's decision to acquire the film," said Loushy and Sivan. "The prestigious platform of HBO will allow us to reach millions of viewers and we're full of hope that this film will lead to the crucial dialogue we are missing so much these days, when it seems both sides have given up on a peaceful solution."
Submarine's Josh Braun and Ben Braun negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.