279.2 The experience of production and production of experience: Filmmaking in a mixed neighborhood

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 10:57 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Regev NATHANSOHN , University of Michigan
Based on ethnographic research, this paper analyzes the process of producing a film in a mixed neighborhood in Haifa, the northern Israeli city, where Jews of different ethnic ancestry and Palestinians of different religions live together.

Since fall 2010, an Arab-Jewish group of local residents with various backgrounds in filmmaking and social activism has been invested in producing a film about their experience of living in the mixed neighborhood. What started as a film aimed at showing the potentials and opportunities of the mixed neighborhood, soon became a platform for interrogating relationships between communities, and State and Municipal practices of discrimination. Other events, such as the Arab Spring, and the Summer 2011 social protests in Israel, also influenced the group's work and shifted the course of production, creating rifts within the group.

Since the group's meetings were video-recorded for research purposes, this documentation eventually supplied the main footage for the group's film, documenting the vivid discussions not only on identity, rights, representation and political power, but also on the means by which these topics could be translated to cinematic language. Thus, from trying to produce a film describing their life in the neighborhood, the group ended up working on a reflexive film documenting the group’s failure to make the film they had envisioned.

This paper analyzes this shift by regarding filmmaking as social action whereby the translation of lived experiences into cinematic language is imagined as having a potential force for social change. This analysis shows how visually-based critical-reflexive observation can shade new light on both the life in a mixed neighborhood as well as on the Arab-Israeli conflict, mainly by revealing the possibilities of transgression whereby the commonsensical congruence between identities (in a conflict) to positions (towards the conflict) is unraveled.