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The Wanted 18

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1 hr 15 min | Hebrew, Arabic, English | Canada, France, Palestine | Amer Shomali | 2014

In 1988, Palestinian leaders asked their communities to develop Palestinian alternatives to Israeli products.  In response, a group of Palestinian activists started a cooperative dairy farm in Beit Sahour with 18 cows.

All of the activists were intellectuals who knew nothing about raising cattle or operating a dairy. But, after some training (and the purchase of some cows from Israel), these newbie dairy farmers managed to start producing a high quality competitive product. The people in the Bethlehem area came to depend completely on the cooperative's milk, which they called 'intifada milk'.

However, once the cooperative became successful the Israeli army ordered its closure, declaring it a threat to national security.  The Israeli army gave the cooperative 24 hours to shut down. Defying the army, the activists covered their faces and went under cover. They hid the 18 cows in people’s houses and continued to produce milk. When the Military Commander realized that the production was still operating, he detained the activists for interrogation. When they did not provide any answers regarding the new location, the Commander sent his army's troops to search for the cows from door to door aided by a helicopter and spotlight. The cooperative survived despite the incarcerations and continued to produce Palestinian milk for years. The cows were hidden in mountains caves and cared for by new activists.

The Wanted 18 is an animated documentary told from the unique perspective of both the cows and the activists reflecting the dynamic and symbolic relationship between them. This documentary will include intimate interviews with those who initiated the dairy farm in 1988 as well as members of the Israeli army (included the commander) who were in Beit Sahour at the time. Most of the film scenes will commence with a rotoscoped interview, then only the voice will continue as voice- over while the events of the story will be the shown in animation. The subtext in the scenes as well as the director’s personal interpretation (ie, ironic commentary) will be present throughout. A larger-than- life (fantasia) visual style will underline the emotional and provocative elements of this story. The film will rely on several scenes in black and white, which will  evoke the pattern of the Palestinian scarf "Koffyaha" and also the cows' skin pattern.
The Wanted 18 is an important story as it speaks of the power of grassroots activism, peaceful resistance and courage in a part of the world that is fraught with negative imagery. This is a film about nation-building from the bottom up, by the people, not politicians. The Wanted 18 is  a unique vision of Palestine and the region told from a most human perspective, and with more than a dash of humour, as well.

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