A coupling of Biblical panoramas showing breathtaking sunrises and tranquil landscapes highlight the comparative heaven and hell of how differently someone’s birth and their dreams can collide contingent on context.
Hans Henrik Fafner
Fafner is a regular critic in Modern Times Review.
Published date: June 18, 2018

Israeli filmmaker Avner Faingulernt spent four years in the hilly landscapes of southern West Bank. The result is two different films that when paired together tell two parallel stories of two different families. In the first, we follow Palestinian shepherd Omar and his family. In the second, the Israeli settler Avidan, his pregnant wife and a small bunch of their helpers, as well as their goats and sheep.

«I loved to visit both worlds. I saw no interaction and nothing combined them. But, maybe this is a new beginning anyway,» said the director after the screening at the DocAviv film festival in Tel Aviv in May.

Similar conditions, fundamental differences

Omar hails from the large village of Yatta – located  in the Hebron Governorate in the West Bank –but moves to more remote regions. He wants to settle on the land that his Bedouin family has owned for generations in order to be close to his «tribe». The move is initially challenging and the first wave of thunderstorms spent under plastic sheeting prompts him to construct a proper home. He builds the primitive cinder block structure at night to escape the gaze of Israeli soldiers in full control of the area.

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Conversely, settler Avidan is a veritable hippie ideal, managing to escape the materialistic city lifestyle in order to spend time with animals and a guitar on a rocky hilltop. His home is an abandoned wooden building that he and his comrades renovate in broad daylight – a fairly typical settler outpost.

The two families build their dreams in similar weather conditions. And, in both areas they find similar solutions to their problems – for example they sleep on mattresses on the roof when summer temperatures are unbearable. While these occurrences are infrequent, they are intense in nature, thus emphasising fundamental similarities. This connection between their lives is also illustrated through the use of colour – for example, the significance of blood after both slaughter a goat.

The differences are most obviously apparent politically.

Stark reality behind breath-taking landscape

According to Israeli human rights organisation Btselem there are more than 200 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. All of them are illegal according to international conventions, but nevertheless 127 enjoy official recognition from the Israeli government. Another 100 or so are the so-called …

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