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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Andrew Hallenberg at 10:53PM
screenshot of the documentary

Blog posting written by Andrew Hallenberg, Film, Photography, & Visual Arts (BFA), Honors, '20, FLEFF Blogging Intern, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

 

“I’m not well rounded… I’m collected.”

 

“Collected” is the word Dorit Naaman uses to describe her extensive interdisciplinary background. Naaman, who is not only a director, but an Alliance Atlantis Professor in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University, has an MFA in experimental production from Syracuse University, a BFA in film production from Tel Aviv University, and a PhD in theoretical studies from Alberta. This technical background is combined with a deeply rooted connection to her Israeli heritage.

 

Naaman is using her collectivism to bring to light the lost history and culture of occupied cities in the Middle East. Her extensive background in video production and film theory has lent itself to the production of Jerusalem, We Are Here.

 

“I knew I wanted to work with families, and I knew I wanted to make short films.” Naaman says. Prior to We Are Here, Naaman created short documentaries called DiaDocuMEntaRy. In these, Naaman addressed political questions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jerusalem: We Are Here, Naaman’s interactive web-documentary, allows users to engage in a virtual tour of Katamon (or, Quatamon). Gentrification of Katamon has continued to displace the once primarily Arabic community that was present prior to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

When you enter the site, you’ll be asked to select your language: English or Arabic. After selecting a language you will find yourself seated in the Lev Smadar Theatre in Jerusalem, present day. Soon after the red curtains part, you’re transported back in time to the same space, in a different geography. You'll find yourself outside the Regent Theatre in 1940s Jerusalem.

Once outside the theatre, the interactive aspect of the documentary begins to take shape. Viewers click and drag the screen to explore the 360 degree space setup by Naaman and her team. Within the space you can click on landmarks and key subjects to reveal a short film or audio byte pertaining to the person, item, or location.

“I thought perhaps it would be possible to find some of these people and see what they remember and bring them back, if not physically, at least virtually, digitally, with art.” Naaman's audio bit says.

While interviewing Naaman, I found it difficult to avoid talking about the documentaries' stance on the Middle Eastern conflict.

Naaman says that Jerusalem, We Are Here is not meant to be politically charged. The film is about gentrification, and loss of culture. She wants people to walk out of the film thinking about the displaced locations and identities that come with the repeated re-occupation of any area.

With her documentary, Naaman originally wanted to project the film onto the sides of houses in Jerusalem. This particular method of distribution would make the film accessible to Jerusalem residents, but it would be near impossible for viewers of Palestinian residency. This is what pushed for an online release.

An online presence provided an affordable and relatively inexpensive method of distribution to counterbalance the relatively complex and expensive production.

Jerusalem, We Are Here offers a study of the geography of Jerusalem through a dynamic blend of history, art, and technology.

 


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