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Bilin My Love
Shai Carmeli Pollak
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they attack you, then you win.”
BILLIN MY LOVE tells the story of a small Arab village trying to save itself and to break the occupation in a non-violent resistance against the Israeli Army.
Under the pretext of security, the village of Bilin is about to lose more than half of its lands to the Israeli separation fence and to the neighboring Jewish settlement. In an attempt to stop the bulldozers from uprooting their olive trees and destroying their land, the villagers confronts the army in creative weekly demonstrations and direct actions. The army responds to the non-violent struggle with beatings, arrests, tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammonition. After following the struggle in dozens of other villages, Shai Carmeli Pollak arrives in Bilin, first and foremost, as an activist fighting the occupation and only then as filmmaker. He stays for more than a year and accompanies the village's struggle, focusing on two people that become real friends: Mohamed, a member of the village's local committee against the fence, and Wagee, an olive tree farmer and father of ten, who is losing the majority of his land to the fence and to the settlement. The film exposes the extraordinary relationship formed between the villagers and a group of Israeli activists, on the backdrop of their struggle. The conflict that arises between Shai and the Israeli soldiers serving in the area is not only between a director and the subjects that he is documenting, but also the conflict between a former soldier, turned peace activist, and the entire military organization. In the difficult and dangerous reality of the occupied territories, the making of such a film by an Israeli director is an extraordinary act and part of what is termed “video activism”. In spite of its political impact, the film is carefully made and well told. The film reveals the strengthening of relationships between the Israelis and the residents of the village, while alongside those friendships, the conflict with the soldiers serving in the village heightens. In spite of their losses and of the military's harassment, the people of Bilin persist in a non-violent continuation of their struggle. Over time, more and more Israelis and members of the international community join the demonstrations, and Bilin becomes a symbol of the joint Israeli-Palestinian struggle against the fence and against the occupation.
Summer 2005: Bilin, a Palestinian village west
of Ramallah. An olive tree crashes to the
ground, exposing the wound of its tattered
roots. The tree makes place for part of the
Israeli construction to separate the neighbouring
settlement from theWest Bank.With
the help of peace activists, Bilin’s inhabitants
offer non-violent resistance to the construction
of the wall by chaining themselves to the
olive trees to build a human wall. The Israeli
army retaliates with a salvo of rubber and salt
bullets. With a hand-held camera and brisk
editing, filmmaker Shai Pollack draws us into
the midst of a chaotic game of cat and mouse
between demonstrators and occupants of the
Palestinian farm land.
But here are also moments of calm when old Wagee talks to us about his father and of the olive harvest. During the clashes, the village’s inhabitants and the young soldiers often seem just as overwhelmed by events. In sarcastic tones, the officer of the Israeli troop reads out the order of the day: “This is a military zone. Those who refuse to leave it will be driven out by force. Have a nice day!”
Pollack’s courageous film sheds light on the Near East conflict in all its absurdity. The Palestinians and the Israeli soldiers know each other by name: thus, adversity becomes almost a form of community life. However, BILIN MY LOVE remains above all a plea for non-violent resistance, as well as a cinematographic tribute to a village that refuses to be walled in.
Visions du Réel Nyon 2007
- BILIN MY LOVE by Shai Carmeli Pollak 2008-11-27
- First Hand Films
- First Hand Films BILIN M LOVE
- Website Claudius Films
- Sélection Visions du Réel Nyon
Price: 40.00 CHF
Not for sale to Canada, France, Israel and Netherlands
DVD-R duplicated disk
Bilin My Love
Palestine/Israel 2006 84'
Director: Shai Carmeli Pollak
Camera: Shai Carmeli Pollak, Yoni Massi, Emad Bornat