In the Image: Palestinian Women Capture the Occupation
Two Bay Area filmmakers, Oscar-nominated Judith Montell (Forever Activists, SFJFF 1991; A Home on the Range, SFJFF 2002; Saul Wellman, SFJFF 2005) and Emmy Scharlatt, in her feature directorial debut, direct this striking documentary. Their focus is the award-winning Camera Project, created in 2007 by Jerusalem-based human rights watchdog group B’Tselem, to provide Palestinians living in the West Bank or in the Gaza Strip with inexpensive video cameras and the training to use them. The project aims to enable Palestinians to document human rights violations and to provide evidence both to the public and to Israeli authorities. Cameras are an apt tool for this 25-year-old organization, since the Hebrew word b’tselem means “in the image of.” Camera Project footage from three Palestinian women volunteers, together with the women’s discussion of their film work and their interactions with Israeli settlers and authorities, are paced by black-and-white animated drawings. B’Tselem staff offer commentary, including the film co-director’s daughter Jessica Montell, who until recently was the executive director for 12 years. Camera Project creator Oren Yacobovich explains the impact of watching footage of settlers harassing Palestinians. And B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli declares herself “all right” after being shot just above the knee. In her hands: not a weapon, but a camera.