Company C of the Border Police consists of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze, Circassian, more and less religious and secular soldiers. The company was established in 1967, following the Six Day War, and its goal has been and remains one to this day – to maintain peace on the 850 dunams that are perhaps the most explosive in the world: the Old City of Jerusalem.
Directors Rotem Zisman Cohen and Morris Cohen accompanied the company’s soldiers for a year, following, filming and documenting its activities on weekdays, during parades, demonstrations and frequent clashes in the city between members of all religions, and especially after the endless struggle to keep quiet. Calm the spirits. Go through another day without explosions, to get to the next day, which will be exactly the same as its predecessor, boiling, marching on the brink, every moment waiting for the next disaster.
The directors present the film without narration and interpretation. They tell the viewer, especially the one who is unfamiliar with the daily reality of the 850 dunams of the Old City – this is the situation on the ground. This is the real picture there. take it. Straight ahead. To a plate. Take a big bite of the Jews who march in the alleys, waving angrily at the Israeli flags and singing “May your village be burned.”
Take another bite of the burning hatred in the eyes of the Arabs. Take a dessert dish from the hostility between the Coptic Christians and the Ethiopian Christians. And you can be served everything in different flavors and sauces – in the Jerusalem Day sauce with a savory taste, with the boiling taste of Ramadan, with an explosive coating of the days of Passover – here there is every taste and type, more than any Golda branch. Just choose.
Not sure this skinny submission method chosen by the filmmakers works. It does indicate the feeling of the pressure cooker in the small area. For every day and his puddle of gasoline and the lighter holders who come en masse to the city. About the deadly commotion that is just waiting for the slightest excuse to explode.
But where during the planned distance he turns mainly to the viewer’s mind, gives him a school lesson, and on the other hand keeps him from taking part in the intense, angry and hateful feelings of the various actors in this bitter show. Border police officers are not interviewed about their daily lives. So are the Muslim residents of the Old City. Neither are the Christians living in it.
The planned distance allows the Israeli viewer to continue to evade real confrontation with the Old City problem and the Palestinian problem in general. The film does not tell about “our” old city. It tells about an old city in some country, on some distant star. It is just a film.
Those of us, that is, the vast majority of Israeli citizens who do not live within or in the vicinity of a “conflict,” prefer to turn their heads to the other side. As far as they are concerned, the battle with the Palestinians has already ended years ago. Greece and the islands interest them far more than flag-waving Jews who quarrel with angry Muslims in the alleys of the Muslim Quarter located somewhere on Mars. Conflict with Palestinians? We heard something vague about it. The Arab neighborhoods? where is it exactly? We’ll talk about this when we return from our vacation in Dubai.
Human images abound in the film. Real people will hardly meet him. The intimacy that gives acquaintance is significantly lacking to the point of poverty. This is not a drama that takes place under our noses. This is a report. And this is not how strangers are introduced.
Only towards the end does the film deviate from the discipline, and the voice of one of the officers raises the question so clear and simple – and so unanswered – and it is: Where do all these people bring their great hatred from? Who really needs it? – But in the Old City of Jerusalem there is no room for big questions. And if there is, not this movie will tell us about them. We passed. We peeked. Next. To the Cinematheque Film Festival.