The Shmooze

Camel Race and the Erosion of the Bedouin Culture

By Alex Weisler

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A camel race in the Moroccan desert.

When Israeli filmmakers Ezry Keydar and Nadav Ben Israel began making a documentary about a Bedouin man hoping to repopularize camel races, they had no idea his cause would become their fight, too.

Now, Keydar reveals, in a wide-ranging Los Angeles Times interview, his view that camels, and the disappearance of the once widely beloved camel race, have implications for a larger vanishing act: the erosion of Bedouin culture.

“Our choice of topic is not accidental. We see these people as the last of the Mohicans — they represent a vanishing culture,” the filmmaker said. “Sadly, Israel is working systematically to push this culture and its symbols into extinction.”

The interview also delves into the directors’ connection to Arab culture, their reasons for making the film and the logistics of running an actual camel race.

Keydar is currently helping to stage a camel race on a shuttered desert airstrip. The film, “Hump,” does not have a distributor or release schedule yet.


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