We at Tikkun have the good fortune to have U Mass Amherst professor of Film Studies and Jewish Studies Olga Gershenson reporting for us on the Jerusalem Film Festival. These are short snippets that give our readers some feel for what is being presented in Israel at the moment. We hope to have a longer analytic piece from her about the Jerusalem Film Festival in the Winter or Spring 2018 issue of the print magazine (which, as you probably know, is quite different from what we print on Tikkun Daily (which is not edited) or on our website wwww.tikkun.org (where the articles tend to be more focused on immediate realities, since the print magazine has a large gap from the time we get the articles edited till the time it is printed by Duke U Press, and hence has more articles about subjects that will still be relevant a half year later). Below is the first such report from Professor Gershenson:
The first dispatch
“Field Diary” –a new restoration of 1982 documentary by Amos Gitai, responding to Lebanon war and the occupation. Gorgeously edited, with jarring a-synchronous sound and image, really moving document of state violence. Also very disheartening to see how little has changed since then, and if it did–only for the worse. Also on the program was his film that’s a recent follow up to “Field Diary” called “West of the Jordan River”–but it’s scheduled at impossible times. “Death of a Poetess”–a stunning black-and-white film, starring Evgeniya Dodina (former Gesher, and now Habima star). The film focuses on two women, with barely any other characters entering the frame–a poet/scholar (Dodina), preparing herself to die, and a younger woman (excellent Samira Saraya), who crosses paths with her at a tragic moment. But because the second woman is an Arab, the nationalist narrative is imposed on this personal encounter. Powerful, enigmatic, really stays with you.
Born In Deir Yassin
”Born In Deir Yassin” also by a young female filmmaker, a superb documentary recovering (rephrase: approaching attempting to recover) memory of Deir Yassin massacre. Fittingly, once Deir Yassin was emptied, Kfar Shaul, a mental health hospital was established at the site of the village. The beauty of the film is that it interweaves two stories: conversation with a man who was born to the mental hospital patent in Kfar Shaul, and interviews with former Zionist underground fighters, some of whom are proud of their actions in Deir Yassin, and other speak of their own trauma. The two stories are never explicitly connected, but they clearly overlap in some sort of painful traumatic territory, with unresolved past.
Olga Gershenson is a Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies and Film Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.