Saturday, November 05, 2005

Moving Pictures

Sorting out a procedural wrangle with the chairman at a UN conference of NGOs in Vienna, some time in the late 1980s.
In the foreground is Meir Vanunu, Mordechai's brother, who did a lot of campaigning for him back when not so many people were.
Next to him, the thinker resting jaw on elbow is Black Panther leader and Knesset member Charlie Biton. Behind him, the woman in white with glasses is Simone Bitton. Like Charlie and Meir, Simone's family too hails from Morocco, though she lives in Paris.

The woman on the end of the group is Amira Hass, then just a socialist militant, now better known as the Ha'aretz journalist who went to live in Gaza and then Ramallah, from which places her despatches have won wide respect - and opprobium from her country's right-wing Establishment.

This group, all more or less non-Ashkenazim (Amira's mother was a Sefardi from Sarajevo) had just come buoyed from a very succesful meeting with Palestinians in Toledo, Spain, and they didn't want any bureaucratic tangles at Vienna to clog up further progress.

Anyway, my excuse for showing off my snaps is that Simone Biton's highly-acclaimed 2004 film Mur (Wall) is showing in the London Jewish Film Festival. The blurb says "Wall explores the physical and psychological dimensions of the controversial barrier being built to divide Israel and the Palestinian territories. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Simone Bitton, travels along the new construction of this long barrier, interviewing both Israelis and Palestinians who live and work beside the wall. The film effectively visualises the meaning of an impermeable barrier to the local communities while the interviews produce a contemporary and poignant account of the conflict. Wall, winner of numerous prestigious awards, is a contemplative journey into the politics of everyday lives in Israel and Palestine, alongside the extended wall of separation".

From another source (London Socialist Film Co-op) I learn that Simone has said that in her film "space is essential; the sky, the earth, the landscapes are fully fledged characters".

The film is being shown at the Phoenix in Finchley on Sunday 13 November in a 2.00pm double bill, and at The Tricycle, Kilburn on Monday 14 November 6.45pm And if you can't make either screening there'll be another chance, though you'll have to wait. The London Socialist Film Co-op has booked it to show at the Renoir in Brunswick Square on Sunday morning 12 March next year.

I might as well mention a few other films in the Festival that look intersting. Hiding From Hitler, director Sue Read, made this year, looks at how, though 1.5 million children perished in the Holocaust, a few thousand children survived in hiding. The director and Holocaust survivors appearing in the film will attend the screening and panel discussion.The Screen on the Hill on Wednesday 9 November 5.20pm

Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust, is an American film by Daniel Anker, narrated by Gene Hackman. It looks at American ambivalence and denial during the heyday of Nazism, through the silence of the postwar years, and into the end of the twentieth century. Followed by a discussion with Dr Mikel J Koven, Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.,that's at The Screen on the Hill, Thursday 10 November 4.15pm

Men On The Edge - A Fishermen's Diary (Gvarim Al Hakatze-Yoman Dayagim)directed by Avner Faingulernt and Macabit Abramzon, is described as "A gripping observation of the lives of Palestinian and Israeli fishermen working and living together on an abandoned Mediterranean shoreline between Israel and Gaza". It suggests their life and thoughts have lessons for the Middle East and beyond. It's on at the.Clapham Picturehouse, Monday 14 November 6.30pm

On The Objection Front (Ratsiti Lihiyot Gibor), directed by Shiri Tsur, and having its UK Premiere, is in Hebrew with English subtitles. In 2002, at the height of the Palestinian uprising, 614 Israeli combat soldiers signed a petition in which they declared their refusal to serve in the occupied territories. The letter opened up a public controversy and a private battle for each of these men. Tomer Inbar, who is featured in the film, will attend the screening which will be followed by a Q&A. It's at the Phoenix, Sunday 13 November 2pm double bill



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