CAST: Kais Nashif, Shany Verchik, Mickey Leon, Hila Mezger | SCREENPLAY: Roy Krispel | CINEMATOGRAPHY: Matan Balalty | EDITING: Oz Guttman | SOUND: Michael Goorevich | PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tamar Gadish | PRODUCTON: Itai Tamir, Ami Livne, Jérémy Sahel, Fred Bellaïche
Israel / France – 2020 –Hebrew & Arabic – First Feature
Under a very strict military curfew Salah, a grieving father, sets out on the road to cross the Israeli border carrying his dead son Omar in a duffel bag. Miri, a pregnant single woman, decides to help him out at all costs while fending off the terrible heat. A brief and tender journey where two lonely souls become partners for a few days.
It all started with an image. I was at a photo exhibit of journalistic photographs which was titled “Testimony”. Among all the photographs, there is one that attracted especially the look in my eyes.
Perhaps the soberest, the most stripped-down of all. As I read the legend, I learned that it depicted a Palestinian man bringing his son home, who died of heart disease in an Israeli hospital, to bury him in his country on a curfew day.
I immediately had the desire to make it the starting point for my screenplay. “Where will reality take him from there?“. That’s the question that built the film. The man gets on the first bus he sees. He doesn’t know where it’s going to take him, but he’s satisfied because it has air conditioning and, during the journey, he will be able to direct it to the bag containing his son’s remains. He will be joined on his journey by Miri, a young Israeli woman who will help him, even clumsily, almost in spite of himself.
As I was starting a second version of the script, I learned that I was going to be a father. This happy event has contradictorily blocked me in my writing process. The story of Salah, carried from ight to left with the body of his son, was becoming more difficult to conceive. The confrontation with reality suddenly seemed very concrete, very real to me, almost too much. The identification with Salah’s pain then made me change the character. I made him more withdrawn, more muted, less revolted in appearance, the silence weighing more than the words to tell of his pain.
I wanted to put this story into images with gravity and tenderness, so that it could touch people’s heart and the humanity, to bring the viewer, regardless of his or her political convictions, religion or nationality, to connect to the human tragedy taking place every day in Israel. To be as close as possible to Israeli culture, a culture bathed in mourning, certainly, but also of life, the film couldn’t be totally black. That’s why we can find in this crossing, and this word suits well what Salah is experiencing, a ray of light, of laughter, of humanity and even freedom, behind the tragedy of Salah’s journey.
Characters diverse and singular, picturesque or dark, which arise on the road to Salah and Miri and illuminate it each time differently. But we will also remember, I hope, the relationship that will be gradually weaved between Salah and Miri. A relationship that begins cautiously, and that is gradually reinforced during the course of the film into a strong and deeply human, silent bond. I hope that this stage of the current editing process, which fully reflects the intentions I had at the stage of the screenplay, will be able to transmit this bittersweet story and, through it, the complexity of reality, the absurdity of the situation, the coexistence of life and death, and the life force, despite everything.