(Photo of Old City, Jerusalem by Abe Novick)
It’s hard to think of a more appropriate city than Jerusalem to be seen from a G-d’s eye view. But that’s exactly what the new IMAX movie, distributed by National Geographic Entertainment, will be doing in the coming months as it makes its way to the giant screens around the world.
Often relegated to themes of science and exploration, whether Mount Everest, the Antarctic or depths of the Atlantic Ocean, the powerful medium has also been partially employed in entertainment films from “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, to “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.”
In this case, “Jerusalem” just had its premiere at Boston’s Museum of Science, where according to the JTA, “viewers were treated to rare aerial views of the Old City as Jews gather at the Western Wall (Kotel) for the priestly blessing, Christian pilgrims march down the Via Dolorosa and Muslims gather at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of Ramadan.”
Part history, part cross cultural portrayal, the movie wouldn’t have been shot had it not been for Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Consul General in New York, who helped steer it over the many security hurdles that shooting an aerial film above the holy land would diplomatically involve. Mr. Aharoni is also a key player in The Brand Israel Group. The Forward described BIG way back in 2005 as “a coalition of marketing and communications executives charged with the goal of improving Israel’s image.”
It’s no wonder then, he jumped at the opportunity to showcase the beauty, architecture and landscape of a city that many around the world misunderstand and too often associate with conflict.
To contrast any false perception, the film is narrated by three young women from Jerusalem⎯one Jewish, one Christian and one Muslim.
According to Daniel Ferguson, the film’s producer, writer and director, he told the JTA “the teens’ words were their own. My goal is to promote understanding. The film will change assumptions and give a window into another point of view.”
Indeed many who’ve not visited the city don’t realize life on the ground⎯that anyone can move about freely, take in the sights and sounds of The Shuk, wander the labyrinthine streets of the Old City or stroll freely down Ben Yehuda Street.
They are too often fed fabrications and don’t know that before the Six-Day War united the city, Jews had been banned from their holiest places including the Kotel (Western Wall.) According to CAMERA, during the Jordanian occupation, some fifty-eight synagogues--some hundreds of years old--were destroyed, their contents looted and desecrated. Jewish religious sites were turned into chicken coops or animal stalls. The Kotel (Western Wall) became a slum.
Since the city was reunited under Israeli sovereignty in 1967, Jerusalem has been a city open to people of all religions, with the holy places of all faiths, Jews, Muslims and Christians protected.
Let’s hope this film’s perspective will lend a clarifying lens to a city that on the ground is often seen through a false and distorted lens, and not from the one above.
Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at abebuzz.com.