THE MEN BEHIND THE WALL is a very original perspective of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You won the Golden Bear at the latest Berlinale with this documentary. How has your life changed since then?
It changed, yes. I moved to Berlin after the Berlinale, I went through lot of changes in my life besides the Golden Bear. The prize surprised me a lot. I studied in a really traditional film accademy in Israel, I moved to study in Fine Arts Department where I mainly worked in video art, performance and experimental film making. After graduating I really hoped to get inside the world of fine arts. Even when I was working in the project of The Men Behind the Wall I was inspired by performance artists by the fine art approach. When I was making the documentary I didn’t even image it could be a film, I was thinking of it like a performance work. I think in some level it is a performance work actually, a performative action as I legally crossed the border. I was just collecting materials and combining them together. I was actually surprised it became a film.
The Men Behind the Wall has been defined as irreverent. Do you share this opinion? And if so, did you mean to make an irreverent film?
Yes, more or less. I intended to do something unique and fresh. The Palestine-Israeli conflict has been depicted so many times, often as a cliche. I wanted to tackle this subject from a unique point of view.
You combined human relations, sexual relations and affairs between Israelis and Palestinians with conflict-related relations. Did you mean to mix these two aspects political and human and if so which one prevails? Did you want to talk politics through sexual and love affairs or the contrary?
This is a really good question, something I had been thinking a lot but usually I am not asked about. All along the process I was thinking to this theme, that is power relations between women and men and power relations between Palestinians and Israelis using sex relations between woman and men as the mother of the conflict. But at the end I realized that it was maybe the other way around, maybe somehow the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the mother of the power relations between women and men. This aspect interested me the most.
You entered the occupied Palestinian territories, you went along the wall, you met people, had dates and interviews with Palestinian men. To which exent relation between men and women, especially among the younger generations are affected by the conflict?
Tinder was my only option for me to meet these people. I would stress enough how big is the social taboo for women something like using Tinder and using to meet Palestinian men. When I was discussing the idea of my doc with friends they said I was totally crazy, that I should be hospitalizd because first of all it is illegal to enter the Territories even if you could do it quite easily actually. Palestinian people are really demonized by Israeli media.
How many men from Palestine did you meet?
Who impressed you the most?
The old man, I loved him. The one who told me I was his second OkCupid date. For me it was the first time I went to the West Bank, I was scared actually he was sixty years old. It took me few hours to relax.
What do men from Palestine think about Israeli women as you, women from Israeli picking up Arab men?
They are mainly curious, you know most of them are good looking. They simply want to meet girls. But there are zero profiles of Palestinian women in OkCupid. The only option these men have is either to meet tourists.
Did you have any difficulties in shooting the documentary?
One time, yes. When you enter the West Bank, you don’t have any security control but when you go from the West Bank back to Israel, they check you, they check passport and bus. One time an Israeli sodier took me down from the bus for a short investigation. I have also an Argentinian passport that made me feel comfortable.
What about the future? Do you think younger generation from both sides can ease the social apartheid so deeply affecting daily life of peoples?
No, I don’t think so. Even if there are a lot people tired of this situation. Of Israeli’s fascism.
What about your next project?
I am working on a script for a feature fiction film which will be inspired to video art. It is about a young Israeli woman that wants to leave Israel but doesn’t succeeds in getting an European visa. And waiting on documents she drows her sorrows having sexual relations with men met in Tinder. These men feature different prototypes of Israeli and Palestinian societies. It is again about sex, women and politics.