Tag Archives: States of UnBelonging

The Essay Film: Students Contemplate States of UnBelonging by Lynne Sachs

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On March 6, 2016, University of Iowa graduate students Brittany  Borghi (MFA in the Non-Fiction Writing Program) and Hannah Bonner  (MA in Film Studies ) wrote this letter to me:

Dear Lynne,
My name is Brittany Borghi and I’m a graduate student in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. I’m enrolled in an essay film class this semester, and this week, I’m putting together a presentation on you and your film, States of Unbelonging. 

This class is the first time that I (and many of my classmates) have gone in-depth with the essay film, and we’re slowly making our way through the process of creating our own (very, very amateur films). In my very preliminary research about you, I’m finding that you seem to be extremely open to conversations about your craft and your work, and I’m wondering if it might be possible to send you a few questions from our motley crew of budding filmmakers, to share with the class on Thursday night. Since you are someone who transitioned from writing to filmmaking, it might be particularly helpful to hear more about your perspective. Also, our class is full of female filmmakers, and I know they would love to hear from you. 

I’m sure you’re extremely busy, but if you wouldn’t mind me emailing you a few quick questions, I would be delighted. 

I hope this email finds you well. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best and Thanks,
Brittany Borghi 

HI Brittany, this is a start for you and your class. I will try to write more tomorrow before I get on a plane but otherwise it will be finished next week.

I got through about half of your fantastic questions.

Lynne

Hi Lynne, 

Sorry for the delay on this–I tried to curate some questions from my classmates and they were slow getting back to me. Feel free to answer any of these that appeal to you. It’s really exciting to be able to pull your perspective as filmmaker into our class. I hadn’t seen States of Unbelonging before taking this class, and I really loved the film. Thanks for being so generous!

Best,
Brittany 

Questions:

How intentional was the visual and aural layering in the film, and what was your motivation behind that level of layering? 

As with many of my films, I start out thinking the journey of the production will take me one place but the realities of the real life situation take me somewhere far different. In the case of STATES OF UNBELONGING,  I actually knew the title of the film even before I began looking into Revital’s life as a filmmaker.  I had felt torn about the situation in Israel,  believing that the country itself had come into existence for profoundly disturbing and meaningful reasons but that the contemporary realities had become unfathomably complex.  I see the ‘state’ in which Palestinians and Jews are trying to live as a pathological place where no one and everyone belong and don’t belong. Even the notion or ownership and nationhood is so contested. For this reason, I wanted the portrait of Revital to reveal my own sense of doubt and I tried to make this evident through the tensions that exist in the very fabric of the film.     Throughout the film, I try to create a sense of poignancy in either the image or the sound but often not both, except for the documentary material from the kindergarten (where children talk about death) which is so powerful on its own and should not be circumvented.

I’ve read that Chantal Ackerman is an inspiration of yours, and the beginning of the film almost reads like an reimagining of News From Home. Can you talk about pulling Ackerman into this film? Were you inspired at all by Chantal’s installations, as well as her films?

Most definitely, the epistolary structure and intimacy of NEWS FROM HOME was an inspiration for me.  I think that our culture has actually become more literary since the advent of email and that we are constantly hearing our friends’ and families’ voices in our heads as we read their words, these monologues then travel with us throughout the day.  Cinema is particularly capable of replicating this psychological connection to another human being.  Regarding Akerman’s installations, the only one I’ve seen was “D’est” (From the East) a sweeping yet somehow very human meditation on the changes brought on by the fall of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe.  I suppose that her use of long noninflected pans across landscapes was important to me, but on the other hand I focus on one person’s life caught up in political turmoil and Akerman was, in this case, looking at a contintal gestalt.

In The Essay Film, Tim Corrigan writes, “Like an endless war, these states of unbelonging offer no place in which a self can be situated and clearly articulated. It is rather a state of perilous expectations or, as Revital’s husband describes it, a place of such intense longing that there is simply nowhere to locate the extreme sorrow of that longing.” He goes on to say that happens even in the practice of filmmaking. Did you have a position for your essayistic self before beginning States? How did you position yourself against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Against Revital? Against Judaism or Islam? Did making the film change those positions? 

Making the film put me into the wrestling ring where I was being bounced around by every single conversation, large scale political event, suicide bomb, unwarrented settlment – – really the gamut of the the Israeli-Palestinian war was on my mind for the entire time. I was wrought by it all, but then again this was exactly what I wanted. I wanted to reckon with the dilemma in my own exploratory way. I was constantly haunted by her death, but I was not angered to the point where I wanted revenge.  I will share a story related to the distribution of the film.  I contacted the Jerusalem Film Festival a few months after completing the film to ask about their submission deadline.  When I described  the subject of the film, the secretary who happen to answer the phone told me immediately that the film would NOT be accepted into the festival because of its subject matter. I said “Why?” feeling broken-hearted that I would not be able to show the film in that highly respected festival. He then explained that all of the programmers were very progressive and would not like a movie that functioned an exposé on a terrorist act against a Jewish woman and her children. I then explained that the film is not a  one-sided critique of either the murderer or the Palestinians, but rather a thought piece on the whole situation and its resonance for those of us who are far way physically but close emotionally. In the end, my collaborator Nir Zats and I were invited to the festival.  And, to my great joy, Chantal Akerman was there screening “La Bas” (Down There) here own rumination on the fraught situation in the Middle East.  I was able to meet her the day that the war broke out between Israel and Lebanon. A very scary day for both us in Jerusalem.

I love that we end with the innocence of your daughter’s question, which is at once so wonderfully comforting and so entirely unnerving. What was that conversation like in real life? Was it an honest revelation of hers–or a prompting for the film? Can you talk about your perspective as a woman and a mother–in relation to both Revital as a mother and filmmaker, and to the creation of States itself?

This film is very much coming from my position as a mother.  I made the film BIOGRAPHY OF LILITH about ten years before and some of the issues around the creative process and its relationship to having children are in both films.  Honestly, I initially thought the best way to make this film was to make an anti-documentary that would not allow me to smell, hear, feel or hear anything related to the actual place I was exploring. I was interested in using other people’s and the mainstream news’ mediations coming from every direction. Plus, this intellectual premise, this rhetorical stance, would actually provide an armor or a buffer, protecting me from the very thing that had actually killed Revital. In the end, I capitulated and ended up going to Israel to shoot.  This in and of itself is problematic for those people who believe that boycotting Israel is the best way to create change.  I am not convinced this is true. I wanted to challenge the status quo through the work of making the film.  In this way, the core of Revital’s work as an artist and her commitment to recognizing the rights of the Palestinians was hopefully recognized by the film itself.  She bravely chose to live near a Palestinian village she admired a great deal.

As Corrigan points out (and is clear in the film), our narrator shifts throughout the duration of States, and we come to eventually see the full revelation of you as narrator as Revital’s grave. Can you walk me through your decision-making process for that shifting? How did the essay take shape in that way, or when did it? Did you always intend for the audience to experience this unfolding of and with the narrator? Or was that a part of your filmmaking process? At the level of craft, your voicing is so much different at the beginning than it is even halfway through the film. What were you channeling in those opening moments of the film? 

I’m enchanted by the textual and discursive distance between the narrator’s voiceover, Nir’s voiceover, the text on the screen, and the extreme diversity of rendered images. Again, echoing Corrigan, there is something Marker-esque happening on the screen–and in the mind of the viewer. It puts us on unstable ground, an obvious connection to the thematic exploration in States. Can you elaborate on your own intention with that distance, and how you made those choices? Where are you hoping to situation the audience, and your own essayistic self?

Can you get crafty with us? How many different cameras did you use when recording? How much behind-the-scenes work was happening between you and Nir, in terms of both filming and writing? What was your editing process like? 

Anything else you want us to know about the film? What you wanted to do, and what you wanted us to walk away with? (We’ll have a lot to say about that in class, I’m sure, but I’d love to include that information from you.)

One more question came in from my professor, Jeff Porter, if you have time to answer! 

Dear Lynne—such a compelling and subtly complex film. Thanks for fielding questions from our class. I have a number but let me keep it to one or two. At what point in figuring out your story did you realize that your gradual, visual emergence as a complete presence in the film would tie together so many narrative strings? Was there anything about the editing process that lead you to that solution?

Basically,  I admitted to myself that I would be absolutely candid about my own fears, because I knew that I could not be a war photographer in any way, I knew that my sensations of ambivalence and hesitancy and curiosity were neither unusual or heroic.  I was scared to be so open but it was also very much a relief.  It’s true that I, as a woman with  a camera , only really emerge at the end when I become a listener to Revital’s husband.  This was not planned but it did somehow make sense. When I make essay films, I always end up figuring out the ending at the completion of the editing.  This keep me entertained throughout the process, wondering how I will tie it all up.

Many thanks,
Jeff Porter

Lynne,

Thank you so, so much! These are so interesting to read, and the answers I shared in my presentation last week helped spur a really fascinating discussion that I don’t think we would have had otherwise. I’ll look forward to sharing the rest of them when we get back from spring break.

Creating my own brief essay film for the first time this semester is proving to be a wildly fun challenge, and I’m still not really sure how it’s going to take shape before the end of the semester. Corresponding with you has been really motivating, though. Glad to know that you feel like I “got” your film. The genre has been new to me this semester, and I’m absolutely loving it. Any parting advice for someone slowly trudging through this study and work?

When will TIP OF MY TONGUE come out? I’ll be looking forward to it!

You’re great, this has been great, and again, I really do appreciate it.

All the Best,
Brittany

 

 

 

 

“Of the Currency of Events: The Essay Film as Editorial” by Tim Corrigan

The Essay Film
The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker by Tim Corrigan
Oxford University Press, 2011

Link to The Essay Film at Oxford University Press

Chapter 6: “Of the Currency of Events: The Essay Film as Editorial”

This is an excerpt from Corrigan’s discussion of the film “States of UnBelonging” (2006) by Lynne Sachs

(see Tim Corrigan’s book for discussion of Harun Farocki’s Respite and Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir)

Lynne Sachs’s States of UnBelonging (2006) begins in a private life suffused by global television images, visible on a screen in the background of a living room in New York City. A young girl (Sachs’s daughter) plays on the left side of the frame, while Sachs sits at a table on the right side, watching a news report that shows scenes of war and protest in the Middle East. Over the clicking of an e-mail correspondence, Sachs writes to her Israeli friend Nir: “Did you ever have the feeling that the history you’re experiencing has no shape? War helped us establish time. A war established beginnings and endings.” She writes Nir about a news report in New York Times that describes the terrorist murder of Israeli filmmaker Revital Ohayon and her two children living in Kibbutz Metzer on the West Bank. As she later talks with Nir on the telephone about the incident, a close up of Sachs’s hands cuts out the newspaper article while the blurred television image continues in the background. She folds and turns the material of the newspaper article, then a map of Israel, through a series of superimposed images. Introducing a kind of home movie of current events, these first, dense, and layered images locate the film against the background of television news and the difficult understanding of history through the crisis of war. Here a seemingly never-ending crisis becomes the quintessential contemporary current of events that, in this essay, must be engaged and rewritten as a caesura across global geographies, an imagistic constellation rather than an historical current. Over television images of street violence in Israel, Sachs’s daughter Maya later asks her, “Is there are war in Israel?” “Not today” is Sachs’s ironic reply.

Through the course of the film, this current of events changes directions constantly, as the film arrests, redirects, and reverses the movement of those events. Reminiscent of Marker’s Sunless with its rapid and unexpected global movements, States of UnBelonging disperses perspectives and voices across different individuals and material representations. A multi-technological epistolary exchange between New York City and Israel across e-mails and phone conversations, the film ultimately culminates in a series of face-to-face meetings in Israel, meetings with the living and the dead. At one point, Sachs searches for information on the Internet in foreground, while watching a video in background of the weeping Avi, husband of Revital, and at the same time speaking to Nir on the telephone. Even global geographies fluctuate and overlap within this current of crises: when Sachs interviews Revital’s brother and asks why, after 9/11, did she live so close to danger, he replies that his sister may have wondered why Sachs would live in New York with two daughters. Exact dates announce moments and movements–Nov. 12, 2002, December 10, 2002, Feb. 27, 2005, March 1, 2005—but rather than indicate a chronological movement of history the dates suggest ruptures and gaps in the difficult effort to comprehend the everyday current of a present through the ruins of a past. Like dates of a daily newspaper, these dates threaten to become only fragments of the past.

Materialized as found footage, old home movies, and rebroadcast television news, history surfaces in the course of the film as the shifting and superimposed constellations of different geographies, textualities, time zones, and imagistic fabrics. News broadcasts of war, home movies of Revitale and her son, videos of the daycare center day after the death of two children, Nir’s filmed interview of Avi, clips of Revital’s own films Young Poetry and It Happens So Often, together create a fractured montage of the past and the present, the public and the personal, which even images of the luxurious beauty of abundant olive groves and Sachs’s readings of Biblical histories are unable to harmonize and resolve as anything but clashes across a geography that “drives people mad” and where individuals “on both sides of the green line” live with death minute to minute. Even the everyday waivers and cracks: shots of a soldier walking the streets are slowed and disrupted by small jumps cuts, and street scenes tilt out of focus or tip within canted frames. Like an endless war, these states of unbelonging have no place in which a self can be situated and clearly articulated. It is rather a state of perilous expectations or, as Revitale’s husband describes it, a place of such intense longing that there is simply nowhere to locate the extreme sorrow of that longing.

In this current of unbelonging, however, Sachs simultaneously discovers and creates an image of recognition, the image of an agency that is in fact the face and history of the film itself.  Early in the film, her voice-over describes a hesitant, fearful, and divided self, doubled in fact as the reflection of Rivetal, that other woman, mother, and filmmaker. Throughout this first part of the film, Sachs’s presence assumes, despite its centrality, almost a marginal position. Watching, commenting, reading, she is ubiquitously there, but the film never provides a full image of her, only parts of her (hands, hair, and partial glimpses). Gradually, though, she begins to emerge as a recognizable presence and body, first in a café interview with Revitale’s brother, Rossi. Later, a full shot of her shows her adjusting her camera, and then a close up focuses on her as she places the rock on the grave of Revitale, a gesture which, while an act of mourning, also describes, I believe, an act of mutual recognition.

Sachs’s gradual assumption of an agency here, as part of a recognized bond with Revitale, depends on and provokes two related actions: her turning off the television and her decision to go to Israel. They are complimentary actions, suggesting, first, her refusal to participate in the media’s empty flow of current events and, second, her choice to enter the current of real events. Unlike Revitale whom Rossi describes as living in “a bubble” on her kibbutz, not reading or watching the news and not wanting to know, Sachs chooses ultimately to “know” as an investigation beyond the news, and her words and voice quickly assume a declarative rhetoric that confronts the alienating collage of abstracted images of the televised streets in Israel. Two titles on the screen describe at once her hesitation and decision: “I don’t think there’s any way I can go to Israel,” immediately followed by “I don’t think there’s anyway I cannot go to Israel.” On March 1, 2005, she announces, “I’ve stopped watching television all together. I have a rock to put on her grave.”

What is most significant about this transition is, I believe, that it is act of will and mind to overcome the paralysis and distance of world events. Earlier Avi observes that “When you see those pictures coming from Israel everyday, you stop seeing it as something that’s happening to people and you start approaching it as” a big event in the corner of the world, as part of a “geographic farness makes you numb.” It is precisely that numbness before the geographic farness of media events that Sachs’s engages and chooses to physically and mentally overcome. Remarking on a world of bombs and explosions constantly flowing across the news from Israel to Istanbul to Iraq, Sachs thinks out loud in a flash of recognition and participation:  “Any shake up on the surface of the earth dislodges my equilibrium. Newspapers drape us with the news of another person’s death. When scanning a page of horrors, … an open window onto the spectacle of killing. A gust of wind and I almost smell it.” As she leaves for the Middle East, she will not be “a war photographer,” and, unlike the endless stream of news reports, she is “not going to Israel to shoot a film.” Hers is a decision to experience that world as an active agency outside images in search for knowledge, a knowledge that will presumably extend her beyond the boundaries of not just New York or Israel but of her own self and her own film. Avi remarks earlier that for Revitale “no matter what choice you make it’s the right choice,” and here Sachs’s choice becomes, not too far from that of Ari in Waltz with Bashir, the critical choice to be the changing agent of her own destiny, which is inextricably also the destiny of her children.

If recognition, expectation, and choice are the cornerstones of essayistic investigations, their agency becomes positioned in State of UnBelonging through Sachs to the many children in the film as the emblems of choice and anticipatory expectation. Sachs’s identification with Revitale as a filmmaker most obviously functions as a point of subjective transference and transformation whereby she remakes the filmmaker’s death and the found footage of Revitale’s films as she incorporates them into herself and her own film. A second, and probably more important, point of identification, though, occurs with Revitale’s children and Sach’s two daughters who appear in the opening and closing sequences and sporadically through the film. Images of these and other children and their loss suffuse the film: a videotape of the day care center where young boys and girls work to process the death of their former classmates, a child plays in extreme foreground of an image while Jewish children play in street on a large monitor in the background. In one shot, a corner of an otherwise black image contains only the image of a terrified child.

In the final sequence, these images of children crystallize in an almost naive flash of insight and awareness, as the film returns to the New York living room that opened the film, now brightly lit. Before the television news in background, a daughter’s voice recounts the tale of Abraham and the casting out of Ishmael that she and her sister heard from Sachs that morning. When Sachs asks her daughters how they think the two separated brothers in the tale felt, one daughter responds that she thinks they could have learned to live together. The daughter then continues with a simple question that is the kind of question rarely asked of those current events whose past moves relentlessly through the present into the future: “Who sent them into the desert?” The film then cuts to high-angle shot of the daughter sitting down in front of a silent television. In this crisis to know and to act, States of UnBelonging, like Benjamin, concludes with the recognition that “To write history means giving dates a physiognomy” (Arcades 476).

States of UnBelonging Transcript

STATES OF UNBELONGING a film by LYNNE SACHS
in collaboration with NIR ZATS
63 minutes

Hebrew spoken by children

“When I am big and someone dies, I am going to go to the funeral.”

“You can put a doll on the grave, just like in the story.’

Dear Lynne,

I patiently wait for the sand to sink, for the water to get clear.

Israel is a very small place and in a way very isolated. Being surrounded by

hostility is definitely getting to me. The hostility of war and terror and the hostility of people’s aggressiveness toward each other. So much hatred.

It is hard for me to become involved as an activist. For now catching up with the headlines over coffee in the morning is enough.

Every now and then I consider coming back to New York, being a student again, carrying a camera.

Hope you are well,

Nir

Dear Nir,

Do you ever have the feeling that the history you are experiencing has no shape?

Even as a teenager I was obsessed with history’s shifts and ruptures. Wars helped us order time. A war established beginnings and endings. There is “before”. There is “during”. There is “after”.

Lynne

PHONE CONVERSATION

LYNNE: Hey, Nir, did I wake you up?

NIR: No, I’m fine.

LYNNE: I just wanted to tell you about this article I read today in the Times that upset me so much. It was about a woman who reminded me of myself. Her name was Revital Ohayon. She was a filmmaker, a teacher, a mother. She was killed on a Kibbutz, Kibbutz Metzer. What do you know about it?

NIR: Oh, yes, it was horrible. Have you heard the details of the story, what happened, that terrorists got into her home when she was at home at night with her two kids and actually shot them. I will think about it and right you more things.

LYNNE: Alright, bye for now.

NIR: Bye, bye.

_________________________________

On my map, Metzer is not far from Jenin, only a thumb’s distance from the kibbutz. Isn’t Jenin a Palestinian refugee camp, the site of killings? All I know is its destruction.

November 15, 2002

How are you Lynne?

Living in Israel is closely related to Buddhist thinking. The encounter with death is so immediate in Israel. You have to be prepared for your own death. As grim as it sounds, it’s just statistics.

Thoughts about death cross people’s minds on a minute to minute basis. Imagine the terror and fear in people’s minds on the other side of the Green Line, on the other side of the Wall.

Yes, I know about Revital. Everyone is talking about it. Did you know her husband heard the gun shots over the phone?

Yours, Nir

Dear Nir,

I’ve made so many phone calls to Kibbutz Metzer. Today I finally reached an elderly secretary. “Yes”, she told me, “this is the Kibbutz where Revital Ohayon lived and was killed.” The woman didn’t seem to know more than that.

I wonder what they make at the Kibbutz factory – jars of pickles, buttons, machine parts?

PHONE CONVERSATION

NIR: Hello Lynne, did I tell you that I saw Revital’s husband, it was on the news, on the weekend broadcast, and they interviewed him about what he was going through, and since you were interested in her I was trying to think about what he’s actually going through….

I have the number for her former husband, Avi Ohayon, the man who heard it all from his phone, as the killing happened.

PHONE CONVERSATION cont

NIR: ….for me usually it’s very alienated, you read the news, you see what happened, but you’re not going to the families of the casualties and asking how they feel, or putting yourself in their situation….

Dear Lynne

Did you know that this week is the Jerusalem Film Festival?

Parallel to it is the Ramallah International Film Festival. Ramallah is a big city on the Palestinian side of the border. I wish I could visit to show my films and also to see film in a theater over there. I would have a drink in the local Palestinian café. See a life that is so close to me and yet so far away. Separated and strange.

It exists as the Palestinian town from the news. I can only imagine, of course, since I have never visited myself. It is quite impossible for me as an Israeli to experience Ramallah.

Ramallah Dreaming.

Soon,Nir

August 18, 2003

Dear Nir,

I need you to somehow get your hands on her movies, and also to photograph the land for me, as Revital would have experienced it – the kibbutz, Haifa where she grew up, the Northern coast, Tel Chai where she went to film school.

I am not asking you as a teacher, but as a friend. Did you know that I have never been to Israel? I missed those few moments of peace.

Lynne

August 20, 2003

Lynne,

It sounds so sad when I read your words, “I missed the few years of peace.” Like missing an old relative that passed away and will never return. I was drafting a message to you when your mail arrived. How can I describe my feelings? It’s all not so clear. I remember the opening sentence from Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, “I can feel the heat closing in.”

Nir

Write soon, tell me what you can do, And, no, this isn’t another assignment, just a request from a friend. Really.

Lynne

By now I think I must have called at least fifty times, only to hear a series of Hebrew numbers recited to me, like a wall of digits forbidding my entrance. If Avi is not reachable, I tell myself that he wants nothing to do with the me, that he has withered with sadness, or that his phone has merely been turned off.

August 25, 2003

Nir,

I called Avi in Tel Aviv again this morning. He is so kind, almost at ease, willing to talk. Yes, he told me, she was just about to finish a film about the “generation gap.” There are so many gaps between us, she was only trying to fill one, with her filmmaking.

I’ve been waiting for eight months to see her movies. Will you go to his home, ask him for the tapes, talk to him, and yes, take your camera? Tell me what happens,

Lynne

Lynne,

I was walking by myself in Metzer this morning.

For a minute, I thought about the terrorist coming towards me.

I protected myself by holding the Super 8 camera in its pistol grip. Transformed

it into an Uzi machinegun.

Then, I came back to my senses, saw an old woman hoeing her garden. Behind the double barbed-wire fence the open fields spread wide open.

More soon,

Nir

I mention Revital’s story to my friend Deborah. I had no idea that she had a personal connection to the kibbutz. Thirty years ago she’d been one of those idealistic American Jewish youths looking for a new way of living, communally, in Israel. Deborah lived on Kibbutz Metzer in 1972, the same place, a very different time.

CONVERSATION W/ WOMAN WHO LIVED ON KIBBUTZ METZER IN 1973

I don’t think there are very many places where the Arab village and the kibbutz are truly living side by side. And there always was a really good relationship between village and the kibbutz. And the very first at had coffee was in the village at Muhammad’s mother’s house. Of course, in Arab house you are always offered coffee and you can’t say no and I have never drunk a cup of coffee before.

The kibbutz was built literally on the dividing line of the West Bank. In fact the and the banana groves we used to work in the banana groves sometimes picking the bananas we were actually in the west bank. And the way that the… the road bet Haifa and Tel Aviv was here. If you went left, you went straight into the village of Metzner and if you went straight and kind of to the right you went to the Kibbutz Metzer.

If the Arabs from the village came to the kibbutz there needed to be a reason for them to come to the kibbutz. Where as if the villagers walked passed the village – if the kibbutzniks walked passed the village they were just walking towards the bus stop.

Going into the west back then was an incredible thing.

[How?]

It was like going to a different country. I mean this was 1973 there was barely – they weren’t even occupied. I mean they were occupied in that Israel controlled them militarily but there were no Israelis there. I mean look at all these villages. There are so many villages. There’s tons and tons. And I bet most of them are gone. This is all around Jerusalem.

I don’t think that they’re anymore, this is all Israeli now.

And when they build this fence between the West Bank and Israel it will probably run right through those banana plantations unless they do what they probably will do which is make a road around them so that the Israelis get the banana plantations and the Arab farmers wont be able to cultivate their crops

Listen to this: Israeli -Arab armistices in 1949 partition. Palestine. Since June 1967, Israeli forces have occupied Sinai, Gaza, all of Jordan and most of the Jordan River and a small area in southwest Syria. So of course it is all of Jordan and most of the Jordan River that we are talking about. And Metzer was just on that border.

PHONE CONVERSATION BTWN NIR AND LYNNE

Hello Lynne. HI NIR. I finally met Avi, Revital’s husband, at the Kibbutz. YOUR KIDDING. Yes, he brought her tapes, and I brought my camera. YOU ACTUALLY MET AVI, YOU ACTUALLY GOT THE FILMS. IT’S BEEN A YEAR SINCE… THAT I’VE BEEN WAITING. I saw the kibbutz, the house was living, where she was killed. I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS.

INTERVIEW WITH AVI OHAYON

She was the kind of person that had to find the exactly right path for her that the way of life that she believes is the only way of life that is right. That is the only way of life that is correct and right for her to live in. And so she struggled are her life to create that path to be able to have a career and to have the most amazing children and to make a path that nothing would come – would hurt the other goal.

Her movie was about three girls that didn’t know each other that met in a coincidence one day. And they went together on a trip and it was the first time that each one of them realized that she doesn’t like what she does in her life. All three of them are living a life that someone else dictated to them. One of them was a married woman with 3 children. The other one had a shop. The third one was a secretary. They had to help one another and by that they understood about themselves.

Her movies will not give an answer at the end of the movie but will make you put a question mark in the right places. To think ok I saw but who do I relate to, who do I think I behave like, who do I think make the right decision for me as a viewer. And even more I think that the goal, as I know Revital, that whatever choice you make it’s the right choice.

September 10, 2003

Dear Lynne

Now I’m testing my senses and trying to capture images of my living environment. Sending it oversees to you. Like caging wild animals.

Nir

Yossi: So where would you like me to begin?

Lynne: Maybe who she was.

Yossi: Who she was? I think I realized who she was only after the funeral. There were SO many people…. throughout sitting Shiva.

I keep thinking Yossi might have been a man I’ve walked past on the sidewalk, rubbed elbows with on the subway. If I could actually hear the tragedy of a violent death caused by hate, the gunshot, the explosion, months later in the minds of a family-member, would I be able to detect such an emotion as I sit next to a stranger? I ask him why Revital chose to live so close to the border of the West Bank. I’m contemplating the degrees by which we measure danger. She might have wondered why I stay in New York City with my 2 girls after September 11th. What does it mean to call a place home, like a squirrel burrowed in a tree she knows is just a leap from the hole of a fox.

DAY CARE CENTER AFTER FUNERAL, CREATING A MEMORIAL, CANDLES

TRANSLATION FROM HEBREW

TEACHER: Yesterday I was at the funeral for Matan and Noam. Do you know what a funeral is? The word funeral comes from Lelavot, to accompany. We accompany the dead to their grave. Then we bury them.

BOY: A grave is only in the ground.

TEACHER: What does a grave look like? When you bury someone what do you cover it with?

GIRL: A grave is only made of dirt. If someone dies, you don’t leave them at home. There is too much blood.

BOY: You need to dig a hole in the earth. You cover them with dirt just like you cover carrot seeds. Then you put a sign with their names on the grave.

BOY: I saw the terrorist who killed Noam and Matan on TV. Do you want to hear something about the terrorist? He has a brain of a chickadee and the common sense of a dog. LAUGHTER

I met a girl in summer camp in 1971. She was tall, lanky with blonde hair, very nice, quiet. One August afternoon, around my birthday, she confided to me that her father had been shot down in an air force plane in Vietnam. It was as if she’d told me that she had leprosy. I was so terrified I really couldn’t talk to her, or even stand near her, the rest of the summer.

TEACHER: We have things of Matam and Noam here. We have their dolls, their pacifiers, their drawings, tooth brushes.

CHILD: We have to take the stuff out so we can remember them, so that we don’t worry about them.

GIRL: If I take things out it will make me sad.

BOY: We are going to see the story again tonight on the news.

September 12, 2003

Lynne,

Now is the month of Elul, a time of repentance and reconciliation before Yom Kippur.

Such an intense period of prayer – -Selihot — a request for forgiveness.

There is this custom of lighting Ner Neshama (a soul candle) on Yom Kippur. A candle for the dead that lasts for 24 hours.

Yona Wallach wrote about it:

“My awareness is fading away, like a soul candle ….”

I like the way her poems sound in Hebrew.

(Yamim Noraim — DAYS OF AWE)

I wonder what this all means to you.

Soon,

Nir

Today I started to read Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish. Do you know it? I got the book a long time ago for 99 cents on St. Marks Place. Why did I start reading it today all of a sudden?

VOICE OF REVITAL COMFORTING HER SON IN HEBREW

AVI: She was lucky to go with them and maybe even luck was not the issue here because there’s no other way, there’s no other possibility that they would have gone without her or that she would have one without them. All three of them were one all the time.

February 24, 2004

Nir,

This morning I finally met Revital’s mother at Yossi’s apartment here in New York. She offered me a delicious cup of berry tea she brought from her home in Haifa. It’s divine, with such a powerful aroma like walking in a field.

Lynne

REVITAL’S MOTHER IN HEBREW: She believed that everything that is happening was not supposed to happen. That expressions from our nation could show the world that this is nonsense. This isn’t supposed to be happening. It’s very important that peace pervades. She took care of people at work, in the army. She wanted everything to be perfect.

YOSSI (R”S BROTHER): I asked her how she could possibly live in this country. I mean this constant stress is unbelievable. So she just created her own bubble and she used that bubble with her two little boys and she blocked herself to the environment and she moved to that little kibbutz where she has a little garden and they plant trees and flowers and she doesn’t read the news, she doesn’t watch the news,. I mean she doesn’t watch the news. And unless something close happenedd to them, the rest she is just oblivious to it.

That Passover was, was one of the bloodiest times of the Intifadah, the uprising. There was a terror attack almost on a daily basis, sometimes two times a day. How can you raise kids in this kind of atmosphere. They knew so much about what was going on.

She tried to keep herself separated from this whole craziness and yet she ended up being a casualty of war.

MOTHER: Well first of all the way it happened, he, the terrorist, managed to jump into her most intimate room where she was with her kids. She covered her kids with her body. They don’t want to give us the details. We didn’t see the pictures but what we heard was that she was screaming “Don’t kill them, just kill me!” That’s what the neighbors heard. They found her hugging her kids. I think that was the most tragic image, the one that moved the world. The Minister of Media sent that image around the world.

As a teenager, Revital used to go to the Judah Desert to learn about and photograph foxes and wolves. She was so interested in science. We thought that would be the direction she would go.

September 23, 2004

Lynne,

I keep growing here in Israel. Many things I would like to talk to you about. Did you know that the murderer of Revital was killed by the IDF, the Israeli Defense Force? I actually saw Avi Ohayon, Revital’s husband a few times on TV today.

The circle of grief hasn’t finished turning.

I learn and watch new aspects of reality every day. By living in my small environment I hope to generate a wave of sanity. I start inwards then I hope to get it out there one day.

Hope you are well,

Nir

Dear Nir,

I’ve been to Bosnia and Vietnam with my camera, made films there, looking for tell-tale signs of conflicts I’d never known. But those wars were over by the time I got there.

The difference between the peacefulness of the images you’re sending me and the hostility simmering outside the frame is so apparent to me. Are you trying to protect me, Nir? . The bombing of a tourist hotel in the Sinai a few months ago, the destruction of a home in the West Bank, the explosion yesterday in a Tel Aviv nightclub. Lynne

December 12, 2004

Lynne,

Today is Tu Bishvat, the birthday of the trees. An almond tree is blooming on Rotchild boulevard. It has white flowers and a really sweet smell.

I think that the olive tree grows very slowly. It has a long history here in Israel. Some are very old. Some have been here since before the country was even established. It has a very unique trunk, like sculpture, the color of bronze. The branch itself is mentioned in the Bible.

In the forest there are Cyprus and Pine and it seems as if they have been there forever, but in reality they were planted by a foundation. The making of a forest. A nation established. The concept of a nation to stay. Marking territory.

My bible teacher used to point to Jewish law: if a soldier needs to cut down an olive tree, he must have permission from a very highly ranked officer in the army.

In my head I compare the status of a person and a tree…. you don’t need special permission to shoot someone if there is a threat, but you need high authority to damage an olive tree. Olive is the color of the soldier’s uniform.

Nir

AVI: My children were four and five. They loved to hear the Muezzin from the village next to Metzer.

BROADCAST ABOUT WEST BANK WALL

Some go through the bottom others go over the top or squeeze through the middle of the wall Israel is building to stop suicide bombers from getting into Jerusalem.

So far, all the wall does, say the Palestinians of Abu Dis where the wall cuts their village in half, has ruined their lives. Israel’s plan is a combined wall and fence to run about 350 miles around most of the West Bank patrolled by police chiefs this part will run 38 miles near eastern Jerusalem with electronic sensors. Rada Audi who has breast cancer must sneak through the wall to get to her clinic and to get to work but it will get worse one day she won’t able to even do that.

RADA: They are forcing us to hate them and it is a very bad thing.

BYSTANDER (off camera): There has to be a better way than to split a village

Eventually the wall won’t only split Abu Dis and it won’t only cut Palestinians off from Israel. Through large parts of the West Bank it will cut off Palestinians from Palestinians.

This is the land that devours it own, I’ve read and read again in the Bible. The land of hyenas and jackals and doves, perpetually dry or consumed by water. It is a land I know now, but only anciently. At last, I can follow the green line with my finger, but I have yet to feel its actual bumps and crevices.

Hello Lynne

When I was 14 yrs old, I took a trip with a summer camp to Ein Gedi, a nature preserve in the desert, next to the Dead Sea. Our bus stopped at a slaughter house to pick up a brown cardboard box filled with little, weak, yellow chicks. As the sun was going down, we drove into the wilderness of the desert. In the darkness, we let the chicks loose and stepped away. Then we illuminated the area with light and waited with binoculars. The night animals started to show up. First the wolves, then the foxes, and when they were done the hyenas and the vultures came to eat the leftovers.

Nir

I’ve been reading the Bible incessantly, compulsively, looking for those few phrases that might give credence to a landscape that makes normal people go mad.

.

AVI OHAYON: Last summer they went to the seashore with Revital. There was a fight between Arabs and Israelis at the beach. One of the guys from the Arab group was hurt and he was bleeding. He ran to the parking where Revital and the children just arrived. She immediately started to call; she rushed him in the car and took him to the hospital. When I heard about it, when she told me what happened, I asked her, “Are you crazy?”

NEWS REPORT FROM CONFLICTS BTWN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS

REVITAL’S MOTHER: She really didn’t have a childhood. She missed adolescence. She matured very quickly. At our house there was no middle ground, she had to do everything fully. No easy ways to do things. No compromises.

February 27, 2005

Nir,

I’m watching Haifa now, imagining Revital’s childhood in this city, the place where you’ve told me a Jewish girl and an Arab girl might have played together.

Bombs are exploding everywhere this afternoon. The sound is deafening but I can’t hear a thing. Israel. Istanbul. Iraq. Any shake-up on the surface of the earth dislodges my sense of equilibrium.

Newspapers drape us with the numbers of another person’s death. When scanning a page of horrors, I do not grope for mirrors. An open window onto the spectacle of killing. A gust of wind and I almost smell it.

Lynne

TEACHER: Nora can’t have Matan and Noam’s things under her bed. At a certain point, we have to separate from Matan and Noam. We have to collect their things. What can we do with them? What are they?

CHILDREN: Animals

TEACHER: We will have to ask their father what he wants to do with them. What are we going to do with their sheets, pillows, drawings? Do you have any ideas?

GIRL: Give them to their father so he has them in his house.

We can’t leave them outside.

AVI:The pain is so big but still you do not know where to put it ‘ cause you don’t know that kind of pain. You never felt if before. I never felt it before. I couldn’t relate to it in myself because I didn’t know where to put it. It is a different kind of pain you don’t know from before..

R’S MOTHER: During the whole month of sitting Shiva and also during the funeral, it always rained, but every time we arrived at the grave, it would stop raining.

YOSSI (R’S BROTHER) : It happened to us in the funeral. It happened to us in the seven days of the unveiling and it also happened in the 11 months. And the day of the anniversary, we went to the cemetery, the rain stopped. three pigeons actually that landed on the stone, the tombstones, while we were there, while we were saying the prayer for the anniversary… it was like a message from our sister, sending three doves onto the tombstone…

March 1, 2005

I‘ve stopped watching television all together, Nir. I have a rock to put on her grave. I arrive in Tel Aviv on Wednesday at 3:55 PM. Lynne

TITLE:AS I AM HEADING OUT THE DOOR TO THE AIRPORT, MAYA ASKS ME “IS THERE A WAR IN ISRAEL, MOM?”

“NO, NOT TODAY.” I TELL HER.

This is the land that devours it own, I’ve read and read again in the Bible. The land of hyenas and jackals and doves, perpetually dry or consumed by water. It is a land I know now, but only anciently. At last, I can follow the green line with my finger, but I have yet to feel its actual bumps and crevices.

Hello Lynne

When I was 14 yrs old, I took a trip with a summer camp to Ein Gedi, a nature preserve in the desert, next to the Dead Sea. Our bus stopped at a slaughter house to pick up a brown cardboard box filled with little, weak, yellow chicks. As the sun was going down, we drove into the wilderness of the desert. In the darkness, we let the chicks loose and stepped away. Then we illuminated the area with light and waited with binoculars. The night animals started to show up. First the wolves, then the foxes, and when they were done the hyenas and the vultures came to eat the leftovers.

Nir

I’ve been reading the Bible incessantly, compulsively, looking for those few phrases that might give credence to a landscape that makes normal people go mad.

.

AVI OHAYON: Last summer they went to the seashore with Revital. There was a fight between Arabs and Israelis at the beach. One of the guys from the Arab group was hurt and he was bleeding. He ran to the parking where Revital and the children just arrived. She immediately started to call; she rushed him in the car and took him to the hospital. When I heard about it, when she told me what happened, I asked her, “Are you crazy?”

NEWS REPORT FROM CONFLICTS BTWN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS

REVITAL’S MOTHER: She really didn’t have a childhood. She missed adolescence. She matured very quickly. At our house there was no middle ground, she had to do everything fully. No easy ways to do things. No compromises.

February 27, 2005

Nir,

I’m watching Haifa now, imagining Revital’s childhood in this city, the place where you’ve told me a Jewish girl and an Arab girl might have played together.

Bombs are exploding everywhere this afternoon. The sound is deafening but I can’t hear a thing. Israel. Istanbul. Iraq. Any shake-up on the surface of the earth dislodges my sense of equilibrium.

Newspapers drape us with the numbers of another person’s death. When scanning a page of horrors, I do not grope for mirrors. An open window onto the spectacle of killing. A gust of wind and I almost smell it. Lynne

TEACHER: Nora can’t have Matan and Noam’s things under her bed. At a certain point, we have to separate from Matan and Noam. We have to collect their things. What can we do with them? What are they?

CHILDREN: Animals

TEACHER: We will have to ask their father what he wants to do with them. What are we going to do with their sheets, pillows, drawings? Do you have any ideas?

GIRL: Give them to their father so he has them in his house.

We can’t leave them outside.

AVI:The pain is so big but still you do not know where to put it ‘ cause you don’t know that kind of pain. You never felt if before. I never felt it before. I couldn’t relate to it in myself because I didn’t know where to put it. It is a different kind of pain you don’t know from before..

R’S MOTHER: During the whole month of sitting Shiva and also during the funeral, it always rained, but every time we arrived at the grave, it would stop raining.

YOSSI (R’S BROTHER) : It happened to us in the funeral. It happened to us in the seven days of the unveiling and it also happened in the 11 months. And the day of the anniversary, we went to the cemetery, the rain stopped. three pigeons actually that landed on the stone, the tombstones, while we were there, while we were saying the prayer for the anniversary… it was like a message from our sister, sending three doves onto the tombstone…

March 1, 2005

I‘ve stopped watching television all together, Nir. I have a rock to put on her grave. I arrive in Tel Aviv on Wednesday at 3:55 PM. Lynne

TITLE:AS I AM HEADING OUT THE DOOR TO THE AIRPORT, MAYA ASKS ME “IS THERE A WAR IN ISRAEL, MOM?”

“NO, NOT TODAY.” I TELL HER.

NIR & LYNNE TOGETHER

NIR:A group of a hundred or more religious men are marching down the street, chanting loudly. Can you hear it? The time is 6pm on a Friday evening, quite an unusual sound to hear at this time, something alarming about it, like a revolution.

Time is so poignant now. The right wing blocked a highway on Tuesday ,

Tomorrow the left wing is having a support demonstration at city hall.

LYNNE: It is warm, so peaceful in Tel Aviv, and yet as the sun comes down I hear that unusual chant of prayer from the street. What does it mean?

YOSSI

We just finished the 30 days mourning. It was raining, it was like a message from my sister, sending three doves into the tombstone. By the time we got back home, we received a phone call from the military spokeswoman who gave us the good… I don’t know if it’s good or bad, gave us the news that the murderer who killed my sister and two nephews was ambushed and killed.

AVI: I think Revital knew about life, knew what’s important in life, what I only learned after they went. I think I had to suffer the loss of all three of them to start understanding what she already knew. It’s like the place you’re coming from, trying to do something that is very personal. When you see those pictures coming from Israel each and every day, you stop looking at it as something that happens to people; and you start approaching it as a big thing that goes over in a small corner of the world, but there’s people involved.

If the geographic farness makes you numb and you can’t feel it, it will reach you too. It will happen in Iraq, in Iran, in Syria, in New York, in Madrid, in Ireland, and it will only stop when we start going back to our feelings, and try to relate to the fact that there is a person that could have been my friend, that could have been the brother or sister of someone who just rode with me on the subway. It could be me.

Dear Nir,

I cannot remember if the sun was shining or if I was wearing a sweater, or if I had a cup of tea in my hand when I picked up the newspaper on November 12, 2002. I only know that I saw anguish. My daughters heard the story of Abraham and his two sons this morning for Rosh Hashonah .

LYNNE’S DAUGHTER TELLS STORY OF ABRAHAM, SARAH, HAGAR, ISAAC AND ISHMAEL:

NOA: Abraham wanted a child so badly. He was 100 years old as was his wife Sarah, and there didn’t seem to be a chance. So Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands. He had a son with Hagar, the Arab maid. They named him Ishmael. Then, miraculously, Sarah too became pregnant and gave birth to Abraham’s second son, Isaac. Sarah was jealous of Hagar whose son would always be able to lay claim to being Abraham’s first born. So Abraham asked God to send Hagar and her baby boy to a far off land. God said to Abraham: “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation.”

NOA: Since his son had to go in the desert, he must have been really sort of mad.

LYNNE: Who was mad?

NOA: Abraham.

LYNNE: Abraham was mad…

NOA: …because his son had to go in the desert.

LYNNE: Yeah, and how do you think the brothers’ felt that they were separated?

NOA: How do you think?

LYNNE: I think they could have gotten along and lived in the same house together even though they both had different mothers.

NOA: Did, umm, did, did,…who sent them into the desert?

———-

All the best, Lynne

CREDITS



States of UnBelonging at New York Underground Film Festival

sou_nyuff

New York Underground Film Festival

States of UnBelonging

By Lynne Sachs in collaboration with Nir Zats

Documentary 63:00 Video 2005

The two-and-a-half year correspondence between two friends, one based in New York and the other in Israel, makes up the bulk of Lynne Sachs’ (Investigation of a Flame, NYUFF 2002) personal documentary States of UnBelonging.  Exchanging letters, emails and phone calls, Sachs and her Israeli friend Nir Zats work together to uncover and record the story of Revital Ohayon, an Israeli filmmaker and mother senselessly killed in a terrorist attack in the West Bank.  With nothing much to go on but a newspaper clipping and a name, Sachs and her friend reveal the story of Ohayon’s life through footage from her own films, television news reports, and finally the amazing discovery of a home video of Ohayon’s children in preschool, just before she was killed.

In contrast to the urgent voices of the two filmmakers discussing the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the fate of Ohayon, we are shown quiet images of Sachs herself, her children, and the serenity of their daily activity at home in New York. This is a quiet alternative to the frustrated investigator looking for some answers, and the images of her family life do seem safe, far enough away from the violence she investigates to be rendered still.

This documentation of Sachs’ life at home added to the evidence about the death of Ohayon abroad makes the film as much about its own process of discovery, of education and time’s effect on truth and perception, as it is about the mystery of Ohayon’s murder itself.

States of UnBelonging reviewed in The Jewish Weekly

jewishweek022406for-web

From THE JEWISH WEEKLY
February 24, 2006

“States of UnBelonging”
at Makor Steinhardt Center of the 92nd St. Y

“Of all the literary formats, the essay, perhaps, seems the least suited to cinematic adaptation; with its intensely personal nature and often rambling paragraphs, it appears to elude the sort of tight structural discipline demanded of a coherent piece of film.  All of which makes Lynne Sachs’ achievement all the more impressive:  Here is a cine-essay, maintaining all the benefits of the original format while adhering to the demands of the visual.  At the heart of the film is Sachs’ two-year exchange of letters and pictures with her Israeli friend Nir Zats, an exchange that begins when Revital Ohayon, an Israeli filmmaker and mother, is killed in a terrorist attack on her kibbutz near the West Bank.  Soon, Sachs herself embarks on a journey to visit Ohayon’s grieving family, and her film becomes a meta-essay of sorts, meditating on fear and filmmaking, tragedy and transformation, violence and the land of Israel.  This elegant and beautiful piece of filmmaking is greatly enriched by its soundtrack, featuring works by some of the Jewish avant-garde scene’s best and brightest, including Jewlia Eisenberg, Raz Mesinai and Basya Schecter.”

George Robinson

Film Threat Online Review of States of UnBelonging

Film-threat

FILM THREAT
http://www.filmthreat.com/print.php?section=reviews&Id=9181

STATES OF UNBELONGING
Directed by Lynne Sachs

Review by David Finkelstein

(2006-07-21)

2006, Un-rated, 63 minutes

This haunting film is at once a documentary, a highly personal film essay, and a poetic meditation on the human consequences of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The film tells the story of how Lynne Sachs became gradually drawn into the story of Revital Ohayon, an Israeli filmmaker who lived on a kibbutz directly adjacent to a Palestinian refugee camp, and who was killed, along with her two young sons, by a terrorist in 2002. (To add to the horror of the story, her young husband heard the entire gruesome murder on his phone.) Sachs reads about the story in the New York Times, and begins a correspondence with an ex-film student of hers, Nir Zats, who lives in Israel. It is natural that Sachs is fascinated by the story: like her, Ohayon is a female Jewish filmmaker with young children, trying to make films which address social conflicts. Like her, Ohayon was opposed to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands. (”She believed that peace must pervade,” says her mother.) Ohayon was a fiercely independent thinker, whose films, shown here in fragments, tell stories of women who strongly assert their right to define themselves. Ohayon’s story holds a key to how a woman, a mother, and an artist can find a sane way of living in a world of seemingly irreconcilable conflict and violence.

Review of States of UnBelonging by Cinequest Festival

sou_cinequest

States of UnBelonging by Lynne Sachs

Cinequest:  San Jose Film Festival

Screenings March 11 and 12, 2006

What separates each of us from the other? Director Lynne Sachs explores this complex question and others in her haunting new film States of Unbelonging—a beautiful poetic journey that searches for how one person understands another across cultural, historical and political divides.

The two people in question are Sachs herself and Revital Ohayon, an Israeli filmmaker killed by terrorists. Like Sachs, Ohayon was a mother, a filmmaker, a teacher and a Jew. Though she never met Ohayon, Sachs examines the onslaught of modern media that united both artists, mediated through the letters, messages and phone calls exchanged with Israeli friend, Nir Zats. Deeply interested in “history’s histories and raptures,” Sachs embarks on a private journey to ponder issues of identity, violence in the Middle East, and the hope for union, culminating in an unforgettable visit with Ohayon’s grieving family.

Intensely personal yet thoroughly accessible, States of Unbelonging is a profound meditation about living in an unstable world, with the personal densely blurred with the historical. Drawing on a wide variety of forms, from TV coverage to phone messages and film, Sachs has created a challenging, invigorating film-essay that could rank with the multi-layered ruminations of Chris Marker.

Fernando F. Croce

States of UnBelonging

Trailer:

Full Film:

States of UnBelonging
63 min. 2005

The core of this haunting meditation on war, land, the Bible, and filmmaking is a portrait of Revital Ohayon, an Israeli filmmaker and mother killed near the West Bank. Director Lynne Sachs creates a film on the violence of the Middle East by exchanging letters with an Israeli friend. Together, they reveal Revital’s story through her films, news reports, and interviews, culminating in heartbreaking footage of children discussing the violence they’ve witnessed. Without taking sides or casting blame, the film becomes a cine-essay on fear and filmmaking, tragedy and transformation, violence and the land of Israel/Palestine.

RECENT NEWS! Oxford University Press publishes an in-depth analysis of the film in Tim Corrigan’s “The Essay Film – From Montaigne, After Marker”. You can find the book here.

“3 Stars! Presents a mature, artistic meditation on Middle East violence.”  Video Librarian

“Parallels the layers of history of the Middle East – demonstrating the possibilities as well as limitations of bridging the gap between Palestinians and Israelis engaging the politics of conflict.”   Dr. Jeffrey Shandler, Dep’t of Jewish Studies, Rutgers University

“Both humanist reverie and implicit cautionary tale.” Village Voice

FOR PURCHASES AND RENTALS

Icarus Films

http://icarusfilms.com/new2015/states.html

32 Court Street, Floor 21
Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA
718-488-8900
mail@icarusfilms.com
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Note:  To preview a full length version of this film in English or with Chinese subtitles, please contact director Lynne Sachs at lynnesachs@gmail.com

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