Monday, March 16, 2009

Israel and the Jewish Eye Film Festival

What a powerful time we had in Israel at the Jewish Eye World Film Festival. Bettina, Ruth and myself were guests of the festival in Ashkelon, a coastal city on the Mediterranean, between Tel Aviv and the Gaza strip.

I felt very welcomed in Israel. My teenage son came on the trip and we were initially hosted by a lovely family in Tel Aviv who made us feel at home and served mountains of delicious middle eastern food....

Two days later we were at the festival. It was the first time that Bettina and Ruth had met since the filming, so I was happy to see that the friendship they developed while going through their intense journey was still there.

There were 2 screenings of Bloodlines and the Question and Answer time at the first screening was intense. Most of the people there were very involved with the issue of the Holocaust and reconciliation, either personally or professionally. The questions were penetrating and I appreciated the resonance of the audience - my film really mattered to them! At the second screening there were survivors of the Holocaust present in the audience and it was touching to see them hugging Bettina with tears in their eyes, and in Bettina's too. She was finally accepted.

The media were flocking around, with Bettina's story particularly sought after. An article by Israeli journalist Aron Heller was syndicated world wide - Goering seeks closure to Nazi past - World - BrisbaneTimes

A selection of Ruth's powerful Holocaust paintings had been flown over for the festival by the Israeli Embassy in Australia. They were displayed in the foyer and added an element of realism and depth to the film screenings.

We went to Jerusalem and I was shocked by the beauty alongside the fierce security. Not long after we left Ashkelon, the war in Gaza started and rockets were being fired into the town we had just been in. It made it all too real.

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