‘What is the periphery?” asks Ran Tal, the director whose latest film, the
documentary Garden of Eden, has been chosen to open the Cinema Meets Reality
series. The series, which is sponsored by Bank Benleumi, is designed to
spotlight films made in the periphery of the country. Garden of Eden will be
screened free of charge in the bank’s “Culture and Community” auditorium at 42
Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv on February 7 at 8 p.m.
“If a movie that
doesn’t happen in the center of Tel Aviv is the periphery, then I guess, in that
case, I make movies about the periphery,” he says.
Garden of Eden is
about the Sachne National Park (Gan Hashlosha), one of the most beautiful parks
Located near Beit She’an, it attracts a cross-section of
Israeli society and was a refuge for Tal when he was growing up on a kibbutz
just a few kilometers away.
Tal won the Best Documentary Director Award
at the 2012 Jerusalem Film Festival (one of the most competitive categories at
the festival, which also included the Oscar-nominated The Gatekeepers and 5
) for Garden of Eden
. His previous film, Children of the Sun,
about child-rearing on kibbutzim, also won great acclaim.
“We didn’t feel
we were peripheral,” says Tal of his days on the kibbutz. “It’s a state of mind.
You can live in Tel Aviv and feel you are on the periphery, because you don’t
feel close to the cultural life of the city. We didn’t feel victimized or
marginalized. I think the media has played up certain dreams and made Tel Aviv
into a kind of brand. The physical distance between what’s considered the
periphery and what’s considered the center is not so great.”
outside mainstream Tel Aviv continue to interest Tal.
something emotional for me there [at Sachne]. I had an attraction to the place.
And then I had to figure out how to write it in documentary film language, what
this park gives to people.”
It was fun for Tal to return to a place he
had always loved and to film there. And naturally, he found it had
“In the Seventies it was very folksy. It was a vacation that
anyone could take, you didn’t need money.
Everyone used to go
Now, he found “different populations. You can see the
sociological differences. There are more Russian families, Arab families and
even the ultra-Orthodox population putting their stamp on it.”
things never change: “It’s still a mess in the summer, with families running
around, lots of kids and food. It’s a microcosm of Israel. It’s one of the only
places where you can see all the branches of our [Israeli] tribe in one hour.
You see everyone at the same place....
You can hear every accent.... It’s
very Israeli. It’s not part of the tour of Israel. Sahne is not a place tourists
Tal will soon discover exactly how foreigners do respond to his
film when he takes it the True/False Fest, an up-and-coming documentary film
festival in Columbia, Missouri in late February. Garden of Eden
is also set to
be shown on the YES documentary channel soon.
Bank Benleumi’s Cinema
Meets Reality festival is just part of the bank’s initiative to encourage and
highlight the development of culture outside the large, urban areas, and to
create a national dialogue by bringing that culture to Tel Aviv. There will be
free concerts, theater and art events in the future, also at the Culture and
Community Auditorium in Tel Aviv.
On March 14, another excellent
documentary will be screened in this series, Meni Elias’ Fat Cows, Lean Cows
about the relationships between three men working on a dairy farm in the Negev:
an Israeli oldtimer, a younger Arab and a Thai worker.
The irony that
Tal’s film about the periphery is now being celebrated in the heart of Tel Aviv
is not lost on the director. Nor is the irony that he is being celebrated as a
director who highlights the periphery, although he now lives in Tel
“Soon I will have been living here more than half of my life, more
years than I was on the kibbutz.” He pauses. “I don’t feel like a Tel Aviv
person, though.”To get more information and to reserve seats for the
Garden of Eden screening, call (03) 513-0001. There is also information on the
Bank Benleumi website at www.fibi.co.il