White Nights is a hard-hitting documentary film about a group of women from Deheishe (a refugee camp near Bethlehem), all of them mothers, some single mothers, all struggling to support their children -- Fatma, 50 years-old, is divorced and supports four children; Iman, 28 years-old, supports three; Najah, 47 years-old, supports eight; Jamila, 65 years-old, supports eight. These women work as cleaning ladies in Jewish homes, on the other side of the separation barrier/security fence in Jerusalem. One says, "We work to survive, to keep our dignity." But they do not have work permits to enter Israel, so they set out every morning at about 2 or 2:30 a.m. on a journey to climb up hills, cross wadis, and crawl under barbed wire fences in their determination to get to work and to support their children. On these tense and difficult journeys, the women talk and share about their lives, their hardships and their dreams. They live in constant fear of being caught, but they do not allow this to deter them.
As one very well-dressed woman takes off her hijab in order to blend in on the streets of Israel, she also changes from her walking shoes into elegant sandals because "you should look good, it gives you confidence."
At the premiere screening at the DOCAVIV festival yesterday, filmmaker Irit Gal reported that the film was three years in production and it was photographed over many days and nights, under very difficult circumstances, following the women in total darkness, climbing rocky hillsides, fleeing from Israeli military patrols. She also related that the women documented in the film asked her last summer, when Israelis were demonstrating for social justice, "Where is the solidarity from Israelis to support us. We are the workers trying to support our families." It is true that the Israeli social protest movement did not include Palestinians of the West Bank, not men or women, who are suffering terribly under the Occupation. Mosh Danon, one of the producers of the film, described the reality portrayed in the film as a symptom of the "absurd world that we live in here."
White Nights (perhaps better titled Sleepless Nights in English), documentary, directed by Irit Gal, 47 minutes, is available from Mosh Danon, Inosan Productions, email@example.com