Murad Abu Eisheh (‘Tala’vision’ director): ‘Watching TV should not be a crime’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“I didn’t know if TVs are still holding any importance for people nowadays,” admits Murad Abu Eisheh who wrote and directed the short film “Tala’vision.” For our recent webchat he continues, “I saw this news article that ISIS banned TV. I just started imagining how it must be for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of children in Syria and Iraq who are growing up with no internet. Their only window to the world is this little black box, and you are taking that away from them. I asked myself if I would be the same person I am today without a television.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

“Tal’vision” tells the story of 8-year-old Tala (Aesha Balasem) who finds solace and freedom from a forbidden television while living in war-torn Syria. Eisheh explains, “This little girl’s life is absolutely destroyed by a simple dream. You realize on what level her reality functions. Watching TV should not be a crime. And it’s really hard to fix an entire generation with broken dreams. It breaks my heart to see it’s somehow repeating itself in Afghanistan with this entire Taliban situation, and crack down on women and children and media. You just ask yourself, ‘why is it repeating itself in our lifetime?'”

The film won the Gold Student Academy Award and has made the short-list for Best Live-Action Short at this year’s Oscars. The filmmaker says, “Pulling together an international co-production on a student level and to shoot in the middle-east was quite a journey.”

The Jordanian director recalls, “After we cast Aesha, I met with her dad and did a script reading. The father was weeping because the story was close to their experience going through ISIS territory. He said if he knew the details of the script he wouldn’t have accepted. But at the same time he felt responsible that this story, and what they went through, should go out to the light.”

Eisheh reveals, “After the production, Aessha’s dad came to me and said she is a completely different person because she has observed women heads of department bossing men around. She didn’t have that in her bubble. Now she’s this confident, opinionated young girl, which I feel extremely proud to have had a part in shaping somehow.”

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