mauer – mur – wall

The french filmmaker Simone Bitton has made a silent, though insisting interogation on the situation created through the continuing construction of the israeli ‘fence’ in her film ‘mur’ (film website)

It is an eternal scene. From far away, the camera shows buildings made of white stones, a minaret, and maybe a church; and the camera remains in this place, as if its lens started recording a scene that has not changed for centuries. The viewer would not have known why it did stop, if it were not for the resonating sound of caterpillars, which makes him understand that he is not in front of a postcard… Here is the camera coming out of its deep sleep, in order to show us a tin of gray cement that is trying to cover the “suburbs” of the scene.

The tin becomes an obstacle between our eyes, and a part of the scene that has been covered. We suddenly feel that we have not seen the scene for enough time, so we focus on what remains. But soon, a second, third, fourth tin come one after the other… The scene has disappeared, with its white stones and eternity. The camera stopped at the new reality: a towering gray wall.
press link

This article in Al Hayat continues to recall that this wall is the product of an Israeli political class, which lived the solitude, Ghetto, and apartheid of the past. This wall is not meant to protect the Israeli people, as much as it is meant to displace tens of thousands of Palestinians by making their lives a living hell: confiscating lands, stopping productivity, separating families…
I have been seeing that film just these days at a cinema of Berlin, the german city cherishing the fall of a wall some 10 years ago, which has been build in a continuing line of the cruelties and crimes germans were able to do to others during the earlier period of the 20th century. My thought process meandered around the return of the repressed, read as the traumatic inscription, when during the film itself an interviewed Israeli mentioned that all his relatives have some experience of enclosure through living in sthedels or ghettos. The same man describes the building of the ‘mur’ as a sarcastic enterprise with the intention to commit suicide.
In my assoziating thoughts the dropped phrases and terms – like wall, berlin, germanness … – established a line through history which can’t be erased from the past, demanding in all helplessness that at least something could be learned, though for the moment just that responsibility for deeds don’t stops at a sudden and it shouldn’t be wished either. More likely its allowance to become visible and accepted equally helps to have further coherences emerging, tells the lesson that unconcious connectivities are at still work almost unnoticed, that one should ask for sensitivity and responsibility before a deed that once distorted human behaviour can’t linger and get its absurd continuaton throughout the world ..

At the same time Bitton frequently refines the stylistic device of shortage and confusion, providing the viewer with hardly any information or facts. Often it is even unclear on which side of the barrier we currently are. That we are walking in “Absurdistan” is conveyed by images of a highly modern, almost entirely walled-in bungalow settlement, whose inhabitants talk about Palestinian villagers as if they were bloodthirsty aliens who might invade them at any moment.

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The facts indeed are brought in through the interviews – there is hardly any voice-over during the entire film. Statements like from the farmer, who describes the almost unnoticed and silent overtake of land beyond the green line which ignores dissent as well as ownership are telling the storyline adequately (as dismissed by the media) through ‘the spoken word’. On a similar level the images work like those of palestinians of every age which are watched climbing the wall and create the narrative path of their story through the captured experience, as the old man’s sentence expresses when he recognized that the camera captured his movements: ‘Yes, film us, brother, let the world see how we jump.’

… And then there are all those who believe that the wall is “wasted money.”

Only one turns out to be a total hardliner: Israeli wall expert, retired general, and old Sharon crony Amos Yaron, who, surrounded by Israeli flags on his desk, refuses to look beyond the edge of his own plate and wall. He says that “the Palestinians are responsible for all this.”

To counteract such biases Simone Bitton has sought out another border crosser for her next film: Frantz Fanon, who spent his lifetime fighting internal and external walls, refusing to accept divisions based on ethnicity or culture. The famous psychiatrist and freedom fighter was born in Martinique, studied in France, and fought in the Algerian war of liberation.
(link)

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