Sometimes it is hard to separate essence and style. In the case of the documentary titled “East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem“ I fully agree with its message of positivity and humanity. I agree with the idea that personal connections between people of any kind is a preventive method of avoiding or reducing conflict. And music is a universal, essential and fun way to connect. In short the idea and execution of the movie (“let’s make music together and build peace through connecting parts of the city/cultures”) is close to my heart.
I even like the sound of the songs the people involved in making the record created, although it is far from my preferred musical styles. What alienated me from the film was the words and styles of the main people in it. For me they were too sugary-hippy-naive. They were children of the 60’s and used the lingo of that peace-loving era. For me their words and lyrics not just sounded archaic, but also out-of-time. So much happened in the world, be it music or politics, since their formative years, that that style of thinking and singing seems surpassed. It was dripping with well-intentioned love, but was too syrupy for me to enjoy. I do not doubt its authenticity, even admire it. Just can’t listen to it for too long, without feeling distanced from the people uttering it. To put it in another way: this film will work really well for people who got socialized in that era.
The movie’s principal characters face their own naivety in the scene, where they encounter hordes of young Jews shouting “Death to the Arabs” and a few Arabs shouting back “Death to the Jews”. They have their doubts, but they are not afraid to explore them and are aware that occasionally they need to step outside from the hate-filled atmosphere to maintain their love for peace and understanding. This capacity of and practice for self-reflection is one the things that make the film valuable.
The other is the long lasting effect. Beside actually managing to record all 13 songs for the record, they also initiated a monthly music camp for kids in the only refugee camp within Jerusalem’s borders: Shuafat. The fun and creative outlet they provide for the kids is the best outcome of the whole venture.
Having talked, about my reservations and preferences I have to mention that as a film this is excellent work. Well edited, providing a good balance of footage in the sound studio, vignettes from Jerusalem’s life, background information and interviews of the musicians and singers. It was a pleasure to watch it and learn about people(s) I would probably never encounter in my life.
- Official site
- IMDB summary: David Broza, the Israeli singer-songwriter, sets out to realize his dream of cooperation and dialog between Israelis and Palestinians through music. During 8 days and nights of joint creation in an East Jerusalem studio a hopeful message of equality and unity arises.
- The CD on Amazon.com
* As a member of the committee helping to put on the Jewish Film Festival, organized by the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, I preview movies to help decide which ones to play at the Festival. I watched this movie as part of this volunteer effort.
** Crossposted at jewishfilmfestivals.org