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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Israeli documentary views conflict through refreshing lens

Published: November 21, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

On Wednesday, Nov. 19, Brandeis students had the opportunity to view and discuss the film “On the Side of the Road” with Israeli director Lia Tarachansky. Produced by Naretiv Productions, Tarachansky’s up-close-and-personal account documents the collective memories and denials of 1948 by working closely with first-hand accounts of Nakba, which was the mass exodus of Palestinians from Israel, and surrounding events. Tarachansky’s documentary, originally titled “Seven Deadly Myths,” has evolved over the years to become the work it is today.

Tarachansky, born in Kiev in 1984, fled to Canada with her family as the Second Intifada broke out. Upon her arrival in the Middle East, she developed a fuller understanding of the issues plaguing the region and the ways in which the Israeli government worked to shroud portions of their shameful history from public attention at the time in which her documentary came to light. Tarachansky was inspired to create a documentary that was not purely about the facts but rather about the persistent covering up and manipulation of the facts. She worked tirelessly, chasing leads and switching directions upon dead ends, to stitch several personal narratives, including her own family’s history, into a collective account of the Nakba and the attitudes surrounding the event both at the time and in modern day.

Her documentary brings the situation into a relatable context, placing the viewer in the locale and allowing for the viewer to learn through individual accounts and through undeniable sources. Tarachansky scoured the Zionist archives and visited the sites of abandoned Arab villages, forcing her audience to pay close attention to details that modern Israelis discount. Through Tarachansky’s personal lens, the viewer is faced with inevitable truths of the situation as told by those who have been directly affected by the events of 1948 and 1967.

Tarachansky has created a bold work, which seemed to have stirred deep emotions in her audience at Brandeis. The heavy material and provocative nature of her film have opened up a dialogue and has done just what she hoped it would. Her work has allowed viewers to see that “the [Israeli] government inadvertently shed light on [their] biggest taboo.” Although provocative in its stark viewpoint, the takeaway from her documentary may not necessarily be purely fact. Introducing her piece, she said, “When I would show people the documentary, I wasn’t getting this ‘Oh, my God’ moment. I would get showered with a bucket of facts, and I would shower them with a bucket of facts until we were all covered in facts, drowning in facts, we couldn’t breathe we were so covered in facts. I realized that something else was at play here, and it wasn’t about the facts.”

Tarachansky has breached a topic that, to this day, remains to be one of the most politically charged and sensitive topics one can bring to the screen. Her work allows for the events of 1948 to finally be discussed rather than challenged. Through this film screening and discussion, sponsored by Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine, a much-debated topic on campus was approached in a new, enlightening way.