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Cinematic therapy for Israeli soldiers

A scene from "Lebanon"

I’ve just written an article for The Electronic Intifada, comparing the Palestinian film Salt of This Sea—in which the sea represents Palestinian dispossession—with the Israeli film Lebanon, in which Lebanon is represented by the interior of an invading Israeli tank.

Samuel Maoz, the director of Lebanon, was a tank gunner in the 1982 Israeli war on that country. The Observer conducted a lengthy interview with him in May of this year. The following is an excerpt from my article for EI:

According to the The Observer: ‘For Maoz, making his film turned out to be, cliched though this sounds, healing. As he wrote the script, he realized he was at last able to put some distance between himself and his past. … Physically, too, something changed. “Two days into the shoot, I developed an infection in my leg. It was so painful I could hardly walk. The doctor gave me antibiotics and I went to bed for a day. When I woke up, the pain was gone.” He looked down at his foot and, there beside it on the mattress, were five small pieces of shrapnel, rejected by his body after nearly three decades, evidence, he believes, of “the connection between body and soul.”’

For Palestinian filmmakers, on the other hand, therapeutic cinematic opportunities can be slightly more complex, given that there are more than psychological obstacles to isolating the past as an entity to be dealt with. For example, rather than waking up a few days into the shoot for Salt of This Sea (2008) to find that her conception of injustice had been neatly ejected from her leg, Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir instead awoke to the challenges of filming under Israeli occupation and attempts by Israeli settlers to run cast members over.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety on EI.

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