Inside the cinema it is dark and cool. Our cameraman is ready, and I let the projectionist know he can open the red curtains. A digitized silent 16mm reel starts playing, and the projectionist exclaims: “This was filmed here! I know exactly where it is.” When the eight minute reel is over, and we have filmed from all angles, the projectionist unlocks a backdoor, and takes us to a parking lot, from which we can see remnants of the old sign: The Regent theatre. We are at Jerusalem’s Lev Smadar, an art cinema beloved and protected by many Jerusalemites. Before Israel was established it belonged to a Palestinian, Ferdinand (Nando) Schtakleff, who owned a 16mm camera, and filmed home movies of life in Jerusalem, including coming to work at the theatre, and signing a deal at the MGM offices in Tel-Aviv.
These home movies are incorporated into Jerusalem, We Are Here an interactive documentary that digitally layers the Palestinian past onto the Israeli present of southern Jerusalem. The project involved Palestinians from the neighborhood who collaboratively made short poetic films that are embedded into a virtual walk, and an interactive map that is composed with information by the community. The idea for this project was planted in 2007 when I found a hand drawn map of the neighborhood. In 2011 I received SSHRC funding, and in 2013-14, during a sabbatical, started working with participants and with Helios Design Labs. The project was launched in November of 2016 at RIDM and is available here: www.jerusalemwearehere.com
I came to Queen’s as a specialist in Israeli, and to a lesser extent, Palestinian cinemas. I studied nationalism, gender and militarism, and expanded my work to include photography, and news media. At Queen’s I found a department especially supportive of combining theory and practice, and I soon merged my filmmaking background (a BFA from Tel-Aviv University and an MFA from Syracuse University) with my theoretical interests (PhD from Alberta). I developed a series of short videos, which I called DiaDocuMEntaRy, and in which I tried to address political questions, especially about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, while also addressing authority and voice in documentary filmmaking. See here for more info