A bus load of Palestinians travel on an organised tour to Israel to places where they are normally not allowed to go on their own. This is how they can get an entry permit to cross the so-called green line between Israel and the occupied territories. Filmed before the outburst of the second Intifada in October 2000, when the hope for peace was still talked about at least, their personal stories and fates unfold. All of them are closely and brutally related to the history of Israel. The drama they experience on their three-day trip is mainly a drama that takes place inside them.
As viewers we are taken on a journey into a human culture we don’t recognize from the daily TV news or from many well-meaning pro-Palestinian reports. We follow the Palestinians to the northern region to Tel Aviv and Jaffa and through a countryside from which Arab villages have vanished. All the passengers are from the occupied territories where 3 million Palestinians live. Several of them live in refugee camps, and they are travelling to Israel, many to see lost land and homes. We study their faces, the different generations represented in the bus, we listen to the dialogue and the monologues. And yet what we feel is the inner journey being taken by the characters. It is etched in all the faces, expressions and body language caught by a camera that keeps a respectful distance. The result is a documentary brimming with dignity, a warm and moving film that fills you with sadness because it speaks to your heart.
The story in divided into seven chapters. Each chapter focuses on one or more of the persons, but the overall impression is that of a collective experience. The old blind man and the woman, whose “eyes are never dry” since her husband was killed. The young man who films and comments all the time to report to his mother what he sees. The young woman who waits for her beloved serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison. The man who takes a cab in Tel Aviv and wants to go to the place where Rabin was assassinated because he had met the Israeli leader when he visited the prison he was in. A group of people by the sea some of them have never seen before. The closing scene of an old man who leaves the bus to walk to the green area where he thinks his father must be buried. In a country where he is not allowed to live.
They all speak for themselves. And the humanity in the message of this poetic, political documentary is clear: This is wrong. You can’t treat individuals like this. This must be changed.
© EDN/ModernTimes (previously published in DOX Magazine).