World champion ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine has a dream: to see Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children dance together. A passionate man with humble beginnings in Jaffa, he returns 30 years later to attempt what seems to be an impossible feat: teaching grade-school children ballroom dance in a deeply divided society. This proves to be a far greater challenge than he had ever imagined. Focusing on Dulaine’s dedicated and tireless work, this inspiring documentary follows several children as they slowly overcome their fears: first, of dancing with a member of the opposite sex (a difficult proposition in any culture at the awkward age of 11), and later, of dancing with someone who comes from a very different background. But Dulaine perseveres with his belief in the power of dance to build self-esteem and social awareness. Director Hilla Medalia intimately captures Dulaine and the Jaffa children’s amazing journey as they are partnered with a Jewish or Palestinian boy or girl they had never met before from another school to compete in a dance contest. Filled with warmth, courage and lighthearted humor, Dancing in Jaffa demonstrates the power of dance to transform both individuals and communities, offering hope that for a new generation Dulaine’s dream will become reality.
Hilla Medalia was born in 1977 in a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel. Upon graduation from high school, she joined the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). After military service she began her academic career in the United States where she earned her BA in Radio and TV from Southern Illinois University in 2001. Her MA will be completed in May 2004, while she also taught advanced editing for seniors and graduate students at SIU. Medalia achieved numerous honors, including second place in the documentary category at 2004 BEA and the 2003 UFVA Carole Fielding Student Grant for the documentary Daughters of Abraham and was awarded second place in the promo/commercial category at BEA 2003 for the commercial Tantastic. She also gained the NATPE Film and Student Award for ALT.LANDSCAPE. Daughters of Abraham was her first documentary and also served as her thesis project. Upon completing the requirements for her MA, Medalia plans to move to New York to pursue various production opportunities.