Screened as part of NZIFF 2005
In the summer of 2003, relying largely on Palestinian labour, Israel began to build a 600-km wall that would divide Arab West Bank territories from the Jewish communities to the west, all the way to Jerusalem. Simone Bitton, a French-based, Arab-Jewish documentary filmmaker, has made a poignant, meditative film about the impact of this wall: the way it has divided communities and defaced the countryside, and the absurd processes by which people move back and forth across it. Using interviews and unnarrated footage, Bitton conveys the bitter humour and dismay with which inhabitants on either side greet the surreal intrusion onto their landscapes. Often she obscures the ethnicity of her interviewees or the exact locations where she is filming, so we don’t always know whether the walled-in people we’re watching or listening to are Palestinian or Jewish. There’s no such ambiguity in several long, formal interviews with Israeli General Amos Yaron, whose forthright account of strategy makes it clear that this wall will not be pulled down any time soon.