For US filmmakers Jaron Gilinsky and Adrian Baschuk, the job of documenting Israel's withdrawal from Gaza has only just begun.
By BETH GOTTFRIED
'The goal of our documentary is to educate the average person who may not be as well-versed in Israel's political history," states Jaron Gilinsky, co-producer at Tensions Pictures, Inc. He and his partner, Adrian Baschuk, from Miami, are a two-man camera team committed to presenting an objective viewpoint of the disengagement process.
While this may not seem a simple feat, both Baschuk and Gilinsky, who previously worked on independent projects and have very different methods of filmmaking (Baschuk is experiential-based, while Gilinksy favors an ethnographic approach, meaning that the footage speak for itself), both seem highly committed to the ideal of creating an objective film.
Baschuk, a former CNN correspondent, has been in Israel since June, documenting the events preceding the August 15 pullout. Additionally, he has focused his attention on the Palestinians, covering their reaction to the disengagement.
As I witnessed while interviewing him at his apartment in Jerusalem, Gilinsky has copious footage of Gaza City and has met with some of the most prominent figures in the Arab world, including Head of Security for Mahmoud Abbas. Much of the footage that isn't being incorporated into the documentary is being compiled in short clips for the new cable-based news and information network, Current, a San Francisco-based enterprise, that is seen in over 30 million households and targets an 18-35 demographic. Its launch is one of the biggest among independent networks not previously affiliated with a larger conglomerate.
Gilinksy, who is fluent in Hebrew, has been documenting the Israeli reaction to the disengagement inside Gush Katif, in Neve Dekalim. Some of his most compelling work thus far, which can also be seen on www.current.tv shows the effects of the evacuation on the Neve Dekalim synagogue.
His earliest footage shows Jews praying in a synagogue before soldiers enter to remove them. They are praying for a last minute miracle, still optimistic, still hopeful. From that point on, Gilinksy documents the synagogue as if it were one of his living, breathing subjects. He follows the soldiers as they tearfully carry the Torah from the temple, and are embraced by settlers. We later see footage as the holy structures is destroyed by Palestinians.
By showing the evolution of the story, whether it's a synagogue (which poignantly illustrates the complex relationship between soldier and settler), or international media's coverage of the disengagement (there were 5000 journalists and only 8000 settlers present on August 15), or simply documenting the lives of the settlers post-disengagement, Gilinsky and Baschuk hope to show the entirety of this historic event, and drive home that the most relevant and profound piece of journalism is discovered only through a holistic approach.
This might also explain why neither is in any hurry to leave Israel soon. "The disengagement is just a window into the long-standing Palestinian-Israeli conflict," says Gilinksy. "The results of which aren't even yet tangible."
While both Baschuk and Gilinsky are excited by the prospect of having Current as a venue for their work, they are also quick to point out that their documentary, which is slated for completion at the end of next year (or whenever "their story is done being told") is a very distinct and separate project. The yet-to-be-named documentary will be pitched to major broadcasters in the U.S. As for Gilinsky and Baschuk, after Israel, they plan on heading to Asia and Europe to cover more war-torn countries and conflicts.
For now though, the two-man team plan on sticking around and trying to take on some of the broader questions, such as "How will the newly-relocated Israeli settlers flourish economically? What happens with the 230,000 settlers left in the West Bank after those settlements are evacuated? How will the Israeli soldiers, many of whom lived in the settlements, be affected by the disengagement process in the coming months? How will the vying Palestinian factions (Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad) resolve who gets what land and how the infrastructure of these settlements will be affected? And lastly, how will mainstream media continue to cover the story?"
These questions might seem a daunting task for some. For Baschuk and Gilinsky, however, it's all in a day's work. Or as the case may be, a year's time.