January 23, 2022

Infiltrators – climbing the Israeli wall to get to work #EIFF #Palestine

It doesn’t matter which side of the Palestine/Israel mess you are on, there’s something wrong when people are having to use home-made ladders to climb over a seven metre high wall in order to get to work. They are taking the risks of getting caught, shot, falling or getting ripped on barbed wire to visit family, go to hospital or as part of their commute. It puts the fact that you sometimes have to stand on the 7.29 to Victoria in perspective.

Owing to the illegal nature of what the participants are involved in this isn’t a documentary built of talking heads. There are a few talking feet and talking knees, and an awful lot of talking denim. But faces are generally kept hidden. This depersonalises the experience but does give an immediacy and sense of the risks being taken to get over or under the barrier.

What Infiltrators isn’t is a balanced BBC documentary that interviews professors on both sides of the question, looks at the history and strokes its chin for 60 minutes. It is composed of handheld footage taken by director Khaled Jarrar with the groups of Palestinians trying to get over the wall into Jerusalem. Some of them used to walk every day across the land where the wall now is. Their lives have clearly been ruined, families have been divided to the extent that a mother and daughter who can no longer meet were shown gratefully touching fingers under a section of the wall.

This documentary has no voice over and no inter-titles. There is no attempt to set the film in any context. We watch, uncertain exactly what we are watching or why the people are making these hair-raising attempts to get into Israel. Often a film is stronger when the images are left to speak for themselves, but I think that Infiltrators would have been more powerful if it had described some of the participants,  explained what they were trying to achieve and why they were making the crossing. Also, Infiltrators is not a good name for this film. Technically these people could be called infiltrators, but the word has military/espionage overtones that are unhelpful here.

Director Khaled Jarrar trained at the International Academy of Art in Palestine. He is a visual artist and activist as well as a filmmaker, working with photography, video and performance. With Infiltrators he has created a film that records an almost intolerable daily life.  The footage is generally poor quality and often out of focus. However this film is all about the content. You don’t need carefully positioned lighting and perfect sound when you are filming a soldier kicking an unarmed man in the head.

 

Palestine, UAE, Lebanon

2013

70 mins

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