Israel is among the top ten countries in Academy Award nominations for Best Foreign Film. One reason for that achievement might just be Ma’ale Film School in Jerusalem. Two time Academy Award nominee Joseph Cedar (“Footnote,” “Beaufort”) teaches there and is a big proponent of the school’s bringing spiritual and religious dimensions to filmmaking.
Tonight, March 1, you can meet the filmmakers and directors of Ma’ale at a special screening at 7 pm at the Museum of Tolerance. The evening will begin with a screening of three powerful short films, including “Barriers,” which won the Best Short Film at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Here’s what our reviewer Laura Donney had to say about Barriers.
Golan Rise’s short film “Barriers” is all too real, and that is probably a good thing. Stationed at an Israeli check point, along with three Israeli soldiers and a line of commuting workers, we too are straddling the border that those in the Middle East waver in between every day—and it is not easy. The scene seems ritual, and if we had to sum up the plot with one driving question it might be as simple as “who gets to cross over today?” But this is the Middle East, and simple doesn’t always exist.
Rise directs his short snapshot of the tension filled region in a way both unforgiving and necessary: our hearts beat faster, our blood pressure rises, and we scan our eyes rapidly looking for answers in the chaos—and it’s only 8:00 am.
But unlike the soldiers and civilians in the film—who are all portrayed authentically enough that I wondered briefly if this was a documentary—we don’t have return to the scene again; we can watch the credits roll and feign fiction.
What we can’t do, and perhaps this is the film’s biggest achievement, is believe any longer that we are without choice. But more than that, we understand the force behind another person’s decision, and the power with which their choice can change our lives forever, as well as our own choices extending far beyond ourselves— and no barrier can change that.
Following the screenings, Jewish Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman will lead a discussion with the director of the Ma’ale Film School and the director, producer and star of Barriers.