"I don't politicise my films, they have politicised me"

“I don’t politicise my films, they have politicised me”

“We had a sort of intuition, five years before the Intifada, that what the Israelis called an ‘enlightened occupation’, a sort of occupation without an occupation, but with a visible military presence, would be synonymous with heightened tension. For Field Diary, we began by following a route methodically, using a sequence shot to film different episodes. Each sequence shot becomes a chapter in a shooting diary. At that time, the aim was to prevent people from filming the reality of the occupation, as it did not ‘officially’ exist. Images had to be suppressed at all costs. The occupation is an abstract idea, and what I believe interests every filmmaker is this: how to describe an abstraction. Field Diary was made like this, by accumulating a series of filmed situations. In an unspoken contract that binds me to the spectator, I had an obligation to record this obsession with or insistence on filming at all costs.”

• Films: Field Diary (1982); West of the Jordan River (2017)

Field Diary is a journal filmed in the occupied territories before and during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. There, Amos Gitaï crisscrossed the same triangle of land methodically, filming what he saw on a daily basis – the unease of Israeli soldiers in front of the camera, their refusal to be filmed, the mindset of settlers, and the many forms of resentment harboured by Palestinians.

In West of the Jordan River, Amos Gitaï returns to the occupied territories for the first time since Field Diary. The film describes Israeli and Palestinian citizens’ attempts to transcend the effects of the occupation. Bonds have been forged between human rights activists, journalists, soldiers, grieving mothers, and even settlers. In the absence of political solutions to resolve the issue of the occupation, these men and women stand up to fight in the name of civic conscience.