“In The Land Of Pomegranates”
The Palestine/Israel Conflict
Hava Beller is an 85-year-old, female, Oscar-nominated filmmaker whose films take years to make. “In The Land Of Pomegranates” is further proof of her distinct eye and style. It looks at the Palestinian/Israeli conflict through immersion and with keen observation as she does so through the lives of young people born in and on the conflict zone. The image of the pomegranate remains with us throughout the film. It is both a symbol of rejuvenation and of rebirth. It is also the Hebrew word for a hand grenade. Here is a documentary about a group of young people who were into war and not just war but an ongoing battle that has no end in sight.
Young Palestinians and Israelis were invited to Germany to take part in a retreat called “Vacation From War” where they are housed under the same roof and must see each other every day. Their meetings could be highly charged and antagonistic when they face the issues that each side has with the other. Yet, they confront the issues and really try to learn and to gain insight into what seems to be irreconcilable and they look at the paradoxes and contradictions that have emerged out of legends and history. They take close looks at passionately held ideals as well as the daily fight for survival. These are more than issues because they are the realities with which they live.
What we see is intense but the intensity is important if we are to understand. Having lived in Israel for many years, I feel I have a good understanding about the situation but I am always ready to understand more. As we see the context, we follow other stories of lives of those who live in the “Occupied Territories” (I have trouble with that term) and Israel. We meet a mother and her four children who live in the shadow of the wall around Gaza; an imprisoned Palestinian and learn of his subsequent path; an Israeli survivor of a suicide bombing; and a Palestinian mother whose son’s life has been saved by an Israeli doctor. Each of these is trapped in “the duality of the pomegranate” and must decide whether to become part of rebirth and each other’s humanity, or will they ignite the grenade?
We are invited to hear a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians and hear what they see as the only way out of the no win situation that has continued for more than half a century. What we see “is a monument to patience, objectivity and compassion.” However, we also see ambivalence as well as conviction, good will and exhaustion. This is the candor and honesty of the film. The dialogue is honest and we would hope is a step toward some kind of reconciliation. There is a lot of soul searching and brutally honest discussions by members of the younger generation who are on both sides of the conflict. The film is filled with a sensitive nuance and an examination of this impasse between two peoples who are biblically cousins. We do not jut watch the film, we feel and experience it.
As soon as photos and a trailer are available, I will add those.