In preparing for "DAVID AND KAMAL", a story about two kids from the different sides of the track, one Arab and the other Jew, the director spent a year auditioning. He even collected some videotapes from casting directors as far as Canada and England. To him, finding a right Kamal was essential. So in the end, he went to Israel and interviewed more than 200 Arab kids, often scouring the streets of Jaffa. But he couldnft find one until one after- noon while he was having lunch with Yael Aviv, one of the top casting directors in Israelis, she wrote a name and address on a piece of paper napkin and gave it to him. He went there with his family friend, Manara Nivron, herself a director of award winning documentary director. There he met Abdalla and it was love at first sight.
Abdalla exuded an unmistakable film presence as he was already an experienced actor in 7 Israeli films. The only problem was his English. Luckily Manara stepped forward to coach him and he was ready in two months to do a test shoot. Three scenes were shot and edited, and that convinced everyone. He was it. The kid was natural. While learning to memorize scenes, he always asked Manara what that particular scene meant vis-a-vis the script as a whole.
On the other hand, Yoni, who was the producerfs favorite, had no acting experience. Though the director effectively used his inexperience by scheduling his scene alone at the start of the filming like when he met his father at the airport after so many years of separation, thereby his faltering acting worked in his favor as the manifestation of his shy disposition. The trouble actually started when they met for rehearsals as Abdalla, frustrated by Yonifs inexperience, often threw fits. But after two weeks, Yoni started to show improvement particularly after one day when they were forced to ride in the same car to get to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, they started to sing songs together. Ice was then broken for the relief of entire staff. Yonifs improvement then continued so much so that near the end, the boys were improvising the scene, the very thing the director hoped to achieve from the start.