Kayam Al Hurbano (Existing on its Ruins)

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 Hebron 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 — sometimes invasive, detached or foreign, responsible or guilty, and sometimes 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 convey — within the oppressive brackets of an indefinite waiting — a heightened perception of the reality of everyday settings and the lived life that continues in and around the semi-permanent tent-dwellings of the Hebron surroundings, and among the hard surfaces, yet richly textured 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, in slow but inexorable fashion; the disappearance of individual figures as they pass behind a pillar or within the rhythm of their rocking in a chair — all being nuanced dynamic elements that seem to evolve out of the documented world but that ultimately belie the normalcy and familiarity initially perceived, 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.