Ido Haar is the director of 9 Star Hotel. After the film aired on POV, viewers wrote in with questions for Ido. Read on for his responses.
Allen asks: Thanks for the film. I found similarities between the Palestinian men and Mexican migrant workers in America. Is this something you thought about as you were making the film? Do you think your portrait of Palestinian workers has other echoes around the world?
Ido Haar: I didn’t think about the similarities between the Palestinian men and Mexican migrant workers in America, but I did try to find a way to show a universal story, a human story. Almost every place I’ve visited and shown the film, people find similarities between the situation of the Palestinian men and things in their communities; many people told me about the exploitation of illegal workers in Europe.
Nicholas asks: What is the status of the security barrier? Are there still places where Palestinian workers can sneak past the police and the army to work? Or is this no longer possible?
Haar: The status of the security barrier has changed since I shot the film. There are a lot less places where Palestinian workers can sneak into Israel. The separation fence is already closed in most areas. Getting in to Israel for a Palestinian worked is now much more expensive, dangerous and complicated.
Joe asks: While 9 Star Hotel is described as an “essentially non-political film”, I believe it is nonetheless pro-Palestinian. Why did you not portray the Israeli families who have been victimized by Palestinian acts of terror?
Haar: In Israel and abroad, a lot of people are exposed to the stories of the Israeli families who have been victimized by Palestinian acts of terror. In this film I tried to bring a different point of view about the situation in Israel, I tried to show the story from the point of view of young Palestinians who are trying to survive and support their families in the complicated conflict.
Carly asks: How can people from the U.S. help these young Palestinian men?
Haar: It’s hard for me to answer the question of how people from the U.S. can help these young Palestinian men. I hope that by knowing more aspects of the conflict, people may help pressure Israel and Palestine to work towards a peace solution.
Magalee asks: How did you find your subjects?
Haar: I grew up in a village near the city of Modi’in and I know that area very well. During my research I walked around the forests and the hills nearby and tried to talk with the workers. When I met Muhammad, he took me to the hideouts in the hills, and when I saw the place and met the workers there, I knew that I wanted to make the film there.