The association will try to explore the meaning of cookie-cutter slogans such as the "unity" and "eternity" of Jerusalem through film, by showing short movies made by Israeli and Palestinian directors who have sought to display the exceptional sights and sounds of the city.
The woman behind the project is Adva Rodogovski. She joined Ir Amim after receiving two degrees in political science and mediation in London. She went on to work at Amnesty Israel. "Now I am trying to implement my studies," she told Ynet. Within a short time span she managed to get filmmakers such as Gal Uchovsky and editor Yael Perlov on board.
"A film about Jerusalem, for me, is first and foremost a childhood memory," Perlov said. As the daughter of director David Perlov, she said the film 'In Jerusalem', which he directed in 1963, was profoundly etched in her memory. "Through the movie Jerusalem remained the city of back then, 50 years ago, mysterious and remote, with a wall dividing east and west," she added.
The wall dividing east and west exists no more, but Perlov still wonders about the so-called unity of the city. "There is a wall today too, of course, a different wall, worse, and more aggressive," she said. "And who likes walls anyway? And how will we be able to show the city on film as it is today?"
Perlov's 'In Jerusalem' shows mysterious and remote city
Of the 60 documentaries submitted, 10 were created by Palestinian directors, and eventually four 12-minute films were selected. Certain topics were prevalent, such as the lives of Palestinian children at junctions and checkpoints, and battles on religious and archaeological background. The topic of life in a Palestinian refugee camp was also widely exhibited.
"Of a process that began with suspicion and professional difficulties, we managed to produce 40 minutes of cinema that rises above it all," Perlov said with pride. "The films attempt to display the reality as it is – frustrating, painful, complicated, but full of hope. There is a certain saying here that yes, Israelis and Palestinians can work together, live together, and make films together."
Recurring theme: Children at checkpoints (Photo: Daniel Gal)
Rodgovski, on her side, describes the technical difficulties involved in trying to build the project out of an equal number of Jewish and Palestinian films. "We couldn’t reach the Palestinian crowd because of the language barrier, cultural gaps, and distrust. People wondered how come we were giving them money to make movies, what's our agenda," she recounted.
The result was three Palestinian films and seven Israeli ones. The cooperation was extraordinary, considering the Palestinian organizations calling out for academic and cultural boycotting. Rodgovski mentioned Birzeit University, which refused to cooperate with the project.
Of Jerusalem's 700,000 residents, 450,000 live in the eastern part of the city. 200,000 are Palestinian, and the rest are Jews. "We are a relatively moderate association," Rodgovski said.
"The subject matter is also quite moderate. There were films that dealt with subjects we didn't want to go into, such as three submissions we received about conspiracy theories about Israeli security forces. That was not what we wanted to discuss."
When asked what they did mean to discuss, Rodgovski answered, "Trivial things such as children in east Jerusalem, second rate citizens from both sides, political archaeology, boundaries, the refugees of 1948, and the Palestinian nobility that disappeared, taking its assets with it. We want to discuss the absurd stories of Jerusalem that, trivial as they are, are not discussed."