Kayam Al Hurbano (Existing on its Ruins) (1999)

kayam1 630 355The material for Kayam Al Hurbano, a collaboration with Bosmat Alon, was shot in Deheishe, a refugee camp near Beth-Lehem, Palestine, and in the Hebron (Khalil) surroundings, during a period of several months in the summer and fall of 1998.  Throughout this period we visited and interviewed many of the refugee camp’s dwellers as well as people from the Khalil area whose homes were demolished or had been threatened to be demolished by the Israeli government.  Disjointed fragments of stories and comments of individuals from these communities are interwoven with the images shot, and are framed by a short dream-like text, written by Bosmat Alon, reflecting the complexity of our own position as witnesses of the scene — as invasive, detached or foreign, responsible, guilty and threatened.

What is most prevalent in the depicted scene, however, is the charged silence of a continuous pause, an extended margin of inaction.  The sound design, produced by Brian Karl, contains isolated sounds extracted and distilled from ambient recordings from the above locations.  Thus it conveys, within the oppressive brackets of an indefinite waiting, a heightened perception of the lived life that continues in and around the semi-permanent tent-dwellings of the Hebron surroundings, and the hard surfaces of the streets and buildings of Deheishe.

kayam2 630 355The measured use of digitally created visual effects questions and challenges the illusion of accessibility to the portraits of the people encountered, as well as serves to enhance and complicate our own presence/absence as filmmakers and witnesses.  These effects include such simple tropes as a wall or door closing, or the disappearance of individual figures as they pass behind a pillar or within the rhythm of a rocking chair.  Yet the effects, which seem to evolve out of the documented world, ultimately belie the normalcy and familiarity, and provide the characters depicted with a distance and an anonymity even within and despite the handful of brief moments where they are allowed direct address to the camera.