Culture, Global, Israel, Religion

Art and Film Round-up

First, I would like to present a really compelling artist’s website that I recently found randomly: ofek.com. Art is meant to be provocative, right ?
Additionally, here are five compelling films dealing with different aspects of the Israel/Palestine experience which are available for download via bit torrent if you have broadband

Machssomim (2003) Documentary filmmaker Yoav Shamir’s depiction of the checkpoints that the Israel Defense Forces man in the occupied territories.
The Inner Tour (2001) Documentarian Ra’anan Alexandrowicz accompanies an Arab / Palestinian tour group on a three-day sight-seeing trip to Israel. This one is incredible.
Writers on the Borders – (2002) Eight internationally renowned writers, poets and intellectuals — including American novelist Russell Banks and Nobel laureates Jose Saramago and Wole Soyinka — traveled to the West Bank and Gaza to visit poet Mahmoud Darwish and observe the state of the Palestinians living there.
Aftershock (2004) A film about four soldiers — Ehud, Haim, Omri and Haliva — who served in the occupied territories during the first intifada and were interviewed by Yariv Horowitz, who at the time had been given a mission by the IDF to make a film for the Educational Corps. The army hoped the film would boost morale in Nablus, but after they saw it they decided to censor it, for as soon as Horowitz turned on the camera, “Things were said that would get everyone into trouble.” Over a decade later Horowitz decided he couldn’t wait any longer. He had already been waiting for 12 years. So he decided to pick up his old videotape and camera and revisit his former comrades to make a film about them. This is it.
Ford Transit (2002) The movie folows Rajai, a minivan driver as he shuttles regular people across the occupied territories. On trips from the roadblock in Ramallah to the roadblock in Jerusalem, we get to hear analysis of the situation by all kinds of random civilians – people from diferent religions, origins, and levels of class.

No matter what ideology you subscribe to, I think you will find these films very informative, moving and thought-provoking. I’d love to hear some reactions if any of you manage to view them or have seen them already!

13 thoughts on “Art and Film Round-up

  1. I’ve seen Machsomim, The Inner Tour, Writers on the Borders, and Aftershock. With the exception of Writers on the Borders (which was really a propaganda piece, put hyperbolicically) the other two films I’ve seen were really interesting, especially Aftershock.
    John’s right, whatever your ideology, seeing those movies gives an interesting perspective into the conflict.

  2. Ford Transit is an amazing film. It draws you in. You really feel for the characters. Until you find out that it’s not really a documentary. Turns out the ENTIRE thing was staged. The protagonist is actually an up-and-coming Palestinian actor. In retrospect, it makes sense. I mean, it just so happens that all those big-name politicos on the Palestinian scene just ~happened~ to hitch a ride in his Ford Transit?
    Good film. No credibility.

  3. It was pulled from the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. Google it, and you’ll find references. The driver is actually a camera-man for a Palestinian television station and acted in another of Abu-Assad’s films. Abu-Assad admitted that many scenes (including the one where the protagonist is beaten by the soldier) were actually scripted.
    The International Documentary Festival Amsterdam barely mentions the fact that the film caused controversy at: http://www.idfa.nl/idfa_en_con
    This enters into a much larger conversation about what is truth in film and art, blah blah blah. My point is just that if it has staged and scripted scenes, it should NOT be presented as a documentary. It’s still a wonderful film, and worth seeing. Just take it with a grain of salt and understand its bias.

  4. MORE DETAILS…
    from http://www2.hu-berlin.de/captu
    “In 2002 the VPRO, a critical Dutch cultural television channel sponsored the documentary Ford Transit made by the Dutch-Palestine director Hany Abu-Assad. The documentary, focusing on the white vans, originally Israeli, now used in Palestine areas as taxis, turned out to be partly based on a script, with (professional) actors in stead of social actors and with invented Israeli shooting. The fierce, but unclear debate that followed spoke in terms of truth or fake and was devoted to the question whether this film might be called a documentary or not. Academics and journalists on the one hand claimed that only social actors made a film a documentary. On the other hand directors confessed that they often artificially remade/ invented a situation for the benefit of the documentary. Be it the artificially produced smoke instead of morning mist on the meadow (Jos de Putter), be it the singer André Hazes who bought the birthday present for his wife twice (John Appel), be it that the director waited for the ‘right’ gesture of a social actor (Pirjo Honkasalo). Meanwhile, the VPRO has detached itself from Ford Transit. Up till now the documentary is sparsely shown, and if so with a reminder in advance that it is not a documentary.”

  5. What should one infer about the pro-Palestinian movement that one needs to fake documentaries in order to “prove” Israel is mistreating the Palestinians?
    If he had to fake the footage, doesn’t that actually prove he couldn’t get the real thing, probably because it doesn’t exist.
    If one has to lie about a film being a documentary (the filmmaker, not JB), doesn’t that caste doubt about all the points being made? If this is a lie, then everything else might be as well.
    Btw, my spamblock word is “ethical.”

  6. The Tuna wrote: “What should one infer about the pro-Palestinian movement that one needs to fake documentaries in order to “prove” Israel is mistreating the Palestinians?”
    Who said one “needs” to fake a documentary in order to show mistreatment ? And did a “movement” make this film or was it one Director ? That’s called multiple false premises
    Tuna continued “If he had to fake the footage, doesn’t that actually prove he couldn’t get the real thing, probably because it doesn’t exist.
    Footage of IDF shooting at Palestinians doesn’t exist? Or footage of Palestinian “taxi” drivers doesn’t exist?
    Tuna continued: “If one has to lie about a film being a documentary (the filmmaker, not JB), doesn’t that caste doubt about all the points being made? If this is a lie, then everything else might be as well.
    Yeah I guess you’re right Tuna. If one Palestinian ever did anything shady, that pretty much casts doubt on anything ever said by any Palestinian and certainly any film made by a Palestinian. It clearly proves that they are all inherently liars, and that nobody has ever been mistreated. Thanks for clearing this up.

  7. John, I didn’t expect you to understand – because you are blinded by politics. But a reasonable person could see things differently. Think about it a little. Why did this person need to fake a documentary? Why didn’t he just make a feature film like so many others have done? He was exloiting people exactly like you. I can’t help it if you’re a sucker.
    But no matter what ideology you subscribe to, you should care about truth more than ideology. And people who support the Palestinian cause, time and time again, show that propaganda – as long as it demonizes Israel – trumps truth.
    But maybe you are actually right. Maybe this is the very first time any Palestinian has ever lied and manipulated facts. The mass condemnations of this film’s deceit from the pro-Palestinian world are deafening. It shows the Palestinians, and their supporters, are willing to accept this type of thing.

  8. help. anybody know of or remember seeing a movie shot in Tel Aviv or Haifa about a couple of teenage Arab dropouts, druggies, etc., one of them in and out and in again Israeli jail? I saw it on either Sundance or IFC channel last year.
    could it possibly have had a name something like The Garden / ha-Gan?
    It wasn’t a documentary, it was a feature fictional narrative. ultra-gritty, ultra-realistic.
    Now I wanna know its name (and website etc.) again.
    Read my blog. Leave A Comment.
    Thanks for any help.

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