66th BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
DOCAVIV DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
CINÉMA DU RÉEL, Opening Film
"Generally considered the most fiercely independent of Israeli filmmakers, documentarist Avi Mograbi returns to dance over the aching toes of his country’s establishment and the guilty consciences of his fellow countrymen, this time for the way they treat the African refugees pouring in their country over the last decade. Mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, these refugees risk and often lose their lives in the search for shelter from the atrocities perpetrated in their own countries." - Screen International
Holot (Hebrew for "Sands") is a detention center in the middle of the Israeli desert that was built to quickly address an influx of African asylum seekers, mostly refugees from Eritrea and Sudan. The migrants in Holot have no legal status in Israel, and the government seems to have no plan to grant them asylum, so they remain in an indefinite state of limbo.
Into this Beckettian reality enter theater director Chen Alon and filmmaker Avi Mograbi. Their team begins to engage the refugees with Theater of the Oppressed - a unique method that uses the refugees own personal stories as a basis, and techniques like re-enactment, dramatization, and role-reversal as a way to foster expression and understanding. As a confrontation, it raises the question whether the role players—and by extension the audience—can put themselves in the refugees’ shoes. Between Fences proposes Theater of the Oppressed as a lens for seeing deeper into the current refugee crisis.
The tragic irony that Israel, a nation of immigrants, has refused to take in people exiled by war, genocide, and persecution cannot have been lost on Avi Mograbi - a master in illuminating complex political realities with a poignant sense of the absurd. His reflective documentary, in its sheer expression of humanity in peril, is both a call for empathy and a vivid provocation to the moral ennui of the state of Israel.
84 minutes, in Hebrew, Tigrigna and Arabic, with English subtitles, 2016
Related titles: Gospel, The Great Wall, Imagining Emanuel + Out of Norway
Also by Avi Mograbi: Z32
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