"World Cinema: Israel"

My book, "World Cinema: Israel" (originally published in 1996) is available from Amazon on "Kindle", with an in-depth chapter comparing and analyzing internationally acclaimed Israeli films up to 2010.

Want to see some of the best films of recent years? Just scroll down to "best films" to find listings of my recommendations.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Watching the Occupation

The following posting is by my daughter, Sari Kronish, who is an architect working at Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights a non profit organization that provides planning assistance to underprivileged communities. She has recently seen two new documentary films that deal with the harsh reality of what's going on in the West Bank today.

Machsom Watch
Second Encounter: Palestine Archipelago is a documentary film produced by Karin Lindner who is an activist at Bimkom as well as at "Machsom Watch - Women Against the Occupation and for Human Rights." It is part of the series Suspended Life - short documentary films produced by "Machsom Watch" activists.

This new documentary film about Area C, which premiered this week at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, offers a glimpse into the suffering of Palestinian families in the face of house demolitions all over Area C, and it provides a solid explanation about the building regime under the occupation and the difference between areas A, B and C: only the last of which remains under complete Israeli control; area B is under shared control and area A is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. In one case we learn about a village that is divided – part is B and part is C – so that settlers could have safe access through the village to their homes.

The reality is quite depressing. After Oslo, when Israel divided the occupied territories into three areas, the hope was that a temporary stage had been reached which would in turn lead to a final peace agreement. This was prior to the second intifada, when hope was prevalent. So much time has passed since then, and the film demonstrates how, in the meantime, the situation has been manipulated in order to create new facts on the ground in effect deterring the hope for ending the occupation rather than promoting it.

Settlement Watch
Another film, which recently premiered at the DOCAVIV festival (at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque) deals with the same issue from another angle:

The Messiah Will Always Come (directed by Lea Klibanoff, 54 minutes) invites us to join a journey. Hagit – granddaughter of renowned Yeshayahu Leibowitz – is the life behind the Peace Now project called “settlement watch.” She rides around the West Bank in a jeep and literally watches for new facts on the ground as she monitors and documents the settlements, the outposts, the growing number of caravans, the land grabs, and the violence against the local Palestinians by the settlers.

Right off the bat, we learn what it is that guides Hagit in her work: "If we are the Chosen People, then we should behave better than others." She is so saddened and troubled that this is not the case that she sets out to try to make a difference.

The film gives us the unique opportunity to be inside Hagit’s jeep – perhaps too much so, one could argue; we don’t really see enough of the landscape that she sees but we do get a chance to meet her. Hagit is a woman with great humor, very articulate and lots of personality. The film is interspersed with rabbinic and biblical quotes that are read to us by Hagit when they don’t appear on the screen for us to read to ourselves and ponder.

Having grown up within the religious community, Hagit is faced over and over again with reasons that led her to stop being religious. When she was growing up, she tells us nostalgically, Torah and Derech Eretz (ethical behavior) went hand in hand. But now, she looks around and sees how Torah is practiced without Derech Eretz. The essence, as she sees it, is gone. However, she is deeply connected to her Judaism and loves the land of Israel.

Hagit’s journey continues and will most likely continue as long as the occupation does. However, the title of the film is a metaphor for another journey, which – she explains – is endless: "To believe in the coming of the Messiah is to believe in a goal which will always remain a goal."

The Messiah Will Always Come is available from the filmmaker, Lea Klibanoff at tmwac7@gmail.com

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