Films are screened on loop
Tuesday- 52/50, Uri Bar On, 50’00’’ | 2006
Wednesday- Enraged, Eyal Eithcowich, 60’00 | 2006
Thursday- To See if I’m Smiling, Tamar Yarom, 60’00 | 2007
Friday- Machssomim, Yoav Shamir, 80’00 | 2003
Saturday- Z32, Avi Mograbi, 82’00’’ | 2009
In 2002 the Israeli government established the Immigration Administration, now better known as the “Oz Unit.”The Administration was allotted a considerable budget, field units, and motor vehicles. Labor migrants call the unit “Fifty Two Fifty” since the Unit’s cars’ license plates always begin with 52 and end with 50. Uri Bar-On, director of 52/50, decided to focus on the violence perpetrated by the Oz Unit policemen during their operations to capture illegal labor migrants. For the production of the film Bar-On harnessed students from the Department of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University, and purchased several video cameras. He set up a call center to collect reports about police raids, and transfer the information to the film crews on site. Days and nights Bar-On went with student teams to follow the activities of the Immigration Police. His film crews documented Oz Unit raids on apartments and mobile homes in which migrants live, as well as their arrests on the street. They documented the immigrants’ stories about the policemen’s violence towards them. The film shows, among other things, how the Immigration Police often detain foreign nationals and harasses them merely because of their foreign appearances. This was the case with a doctor in the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center who was arrested together with an Israeli who tried to protect her from the violence of the Unit’s cops.
Eyal Eithcowich, director of the film Enraged, follows the story of four members of the activist group “Anarchists against the Wall” through their struggle. The group’s activity has met with harsh oppression by the State. Hundreds of Palestinians and scores of Israelis and foreign nationals have been injured, and hundreds of arrests have led to dozens of indictments. Nevertheless, the group continues its activity, refusing to forgo the message of refusal to be enemies and the partnership in a popular struggle against the Occupation. The film depicts the group’s activity and the violence in the Occupied Territories; a horror vision in which soldiers, settlers, leftist activists, and local Arab citizens all take part. Eithcowich lets the images, which are often powerful and elusive (especially the depictions of confrontations during demonstrations), speak for themselves, rarely intervening.
In Israeli Tamar Yarom’s film, To See
if I’m Smiling, a harsh picture arises from the testimonies of six female ex-soldiers, who describe their intoxication with power and lack of differentiation between good and bad during
their military service, includinghaving their pictures taken with the bodies of Palestinian interogees who had been tortured. The film consists of a set of interviews with women who served in the Occupied Territories. Several years after their service they look back at their military past which haunts them, trying to confront the civilian reality in relation to the time they had served as soldiers. The monologues of the film’s six protagonists indicate distress, suffering, and guilt feelings. It is incomprehensible how they could have been so easily pulled into a world of wrongdoing and acts of violence perpetrated by soldiers against citizens and detainees; why they agreed to collaborate, to be a part of the system of silencing which kept the squadron’s secrets?
In Machssomim, Yoav Shamir follows soldiers serving in the Occupied Territories, entrusted with roadblock duty. As in the case of the Oz Unit, here too there is an encounter with a different community, and the soldier has the power to decide how the Palestinian’s day will begin or end. The film documents the encounter of Israeli soldiers posted at various checkpoints in the Occupied Territories with the Palestinian population wishing to pass through these crossings and roadblocks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and even between villages or towns within the Palestinian Authority. Observation of the film underscores the lack of clarity regarding the policy or position the soldiers are supposed to exercise toward civilian population. There seems to be no clear instruction what is allowed and what is forbidden at the checkpoint, what language may be used, who is allowed to pass and why. The film presents the confusion of some of the soldiers who are given control over the lives of others, but do not know how to use that power. At the same time, it also presents those who take the responsibility given them too far, using it to exercise power and to humiliate those requiring the services of passage through the checkpoint.
Avi Mograbi’s film Z32 centers on an ex-soldier in an elite unit who participated in an act of revenge for the murder of six Israeli soldiers, an action in which two Palestinian policemen were murdered. He confesses and reconstructs the killing event for his life partner and the viewers. His testimony relates to his part in the murder and to the charged feelings that have burdened him since. In the film, the ex-soldier reconstructs the night of the event several times to his partner. In addition, he returns to the scene of the incident with Mograbi, and reenacts the revenge for him. Much like a murder reenactment which is invalid as judicial evidence, yet serves as confession to a crime committed, albeit not judicial, in this case, too, the reconstruction and the repetition of the killing process combine personal with collective guilt, the desire for absolution with reconstruction of the power intoxication during the military revenge. To us, viewers, the act of reconstruction serves as a type of catalyst for cleansing our consciences, through participation which does not require assuming responsibility.