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Israel/Palestine in Eyal Sivan’s Cinematography - Route 181 (2003)

Part 2 of two-part documentary film screening followed by discussion with filmmaker Eyal Sivan and Gabriel Piterberg, UCLA

Thursday, January 31, 2013
6:00 PM
A51 Humanities Building


Arabic, Hebrew with English subtitles
Total running time: 272 minutes

In the summer of 2002, filmmakers Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan, set off to document Route 181 – a.k.a U.N. Resolution 181, which in 1947 set out the border intended to separate the then-British Mandate of Palestine into two states. The border never existed – in 1948, war erupted with Jordan and Israel grabbed most of the territory awarded to the Palestinians (West Bank and adjacent areas, Northern Palestine, areas surrounding Gaza), while Egypt took the Gaza Strip. Yet Sivan and Khleifi travel along this fictional line and document the everyday life of two cultures and the oral history of a sixty-year conflict.

The four hour documentary is divided into three chapters: The South, from the port city of Ashdod to the frontiers of the Gaza Strip; The Center, from the Jewish-Arab city of Lod to Jerusalem; The North, from Rosh Ha’ayn, near the new separation wall, to the Lebanese borders. Impromptu interviews with both Jews and Arabs who live along the borders are interspersed with long panoramic scenes of the border. These visual intervals show the landscape these stories unfold in, checkpoints, cafes, Israeli shopping strips, concrete and bared wire borders.

The film’s ongoing parable is the biblical story of Solomon, who recognized the true mother of a disputed baby to be the one who refused to split the baby in half – a clue to the filmmakers Palestinian sympathies and their obvious inclination towards a one state solution.

Route 181 is a brilliant mosaic of unofficial evidence that allows a candid evaluation on the border conflict today through the words of those who live it. 



Part three of a quarterly film series:

Spring 2013 - Jaffa, The Orange’s Clockwork (2009)



Eyal Sivan, is a documentary film maker and scholar.  Born in 1964 in Haifa, Israel, Sivan grew up in Jerusalem. He is a Reader (Associate Professor) in Media Production at the School of Arts and Digital Industries (ADI), at the University of East London (UEL), were he has co-led the Program in Film, Video and New Media. He lectures on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, documentary filmmaking and ethics, political crimes and representation, political use of memory, genocide and representation, on which he has also published numerous works.  Sivan is the founder and artistic director of the Paris-based documentary film production company Momento! and the film distribution agency Scalpel.  Known for his polemical films, Sivan has directed and produced more than a dozen documentaries.  Among the prizes he has been awarded are the “Cinéma du Réel Prize” at the Centre Pompidou in Paris for his first film Aqabat Jaber, Passing Through about displaced Palestinian populations; the Rome Prize from the French Ministry of Culture, and the Adolf Grimm Gold prize in Germany for his work The Specialist about the Eichmann case.

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