For the first time this year, the Festival of the 3 Continents presents a panorama of school films that have the particularity of all coming from the same college.
The film department at the Sapir College and Television School in Sderot is guided by different motivations than those prevailing in other Israeli establishments. Renowned for its commitment on free expression and creativity that it offers its students, the school’s pedagogical program is primarily guided by the need to establish a connection between the location, the semi-desert plain of the disadvantaged Negev (land of permanent tension, close to Gaza) and its object of stud : the films. It is therefore not surprising that in this context there is a special drive for documentary even though it is not imposed. The students from Ethiopia, Yemen, Palestinians, or Jew descendants from North Africa, Europe, Russia, emphasised, in several discussions that I had with them, the need to clarify their relationship with their own identity and reference group. For the most part, they printout an incompatibility between the dominant representations (Media and politics) and those they recognise as true today, in interface with their own perceptions and aspirations.
In this unstable environment, their films in their own way naturally reflect the internal divisions and contradictions of the Israeli civil society.
For the last nine years, the school curriculum has been upgraded by the creation of a film festival : Cinema South Festival – Sderot. This event aims to showcase and instruct on the contrasting realities and films coming from Asian, Arab, African, and Latin American countries. For Avner Faingulernt (Head of the film department) and Erez Pery (Professor and Artistic Director), the experiences of past and present creations spotted in these countries can also encourage students to look differently and in other directions, in order to lessen the historical impact of Europe and North America cinema on films made in Israel. In many ways the environment from which some of these significant films come from endeavors a real context proximity or resonance with Israeli realities. Most of all, it has become manifest that exploring other cinematographic horizons is a prerequisite for any viable experience of otherness.