State of Suspension

2008 | 82mins | Colour
By Mieke Bal & Benny Brunner

Genre: Experimental Documentary
Hebrew, Arabic, English spoken, English and Dutch subtitles

Geographically close, politically distant: Israel-Palestine in nine chapters

State of Suspension is a drama of fragments in nine chapters; an unusual and provocative look at Israel, sixty years after independence.

The film is a composite of satirical performances, music and poetry especially composed for the film, which transform the Israeli national anthem and the Declaration of Independence into inclusive rallying calls. These elements are interspersed with unique archival material, compelling situations, revealing statements by a variety of people, all related to the ongoing conflict and the occupation.

Posing as “Patriotism Inspectors”, Israeli comedians Yossi and Itamar interrogate passers-by to check if they have served in the army; masquerading as officials shooting a Foreign Ministry video, they ask Jewish and Arab Israelis to apologize for the harming of innocent civilians. The hilarious interaction of these daring comedians with Israeli society, revealing aspects of its deep collective psyche, forms the film’s backbone, complemented by unique archival material, compelling interviews and dramatic situations.

In-between episodes of these performances we insert short portraits of Israelis – Jews and Arabs – of different ages, cultural and religious backgrounds. They range from holocaust survivors to nakba survivors, from refuseniks to settlers, and from peace workers to refugees. These portraits will be combined with present-day cultural manifestations of the conflict, and political attitudes vis-à-vis the Israeli Palestinians and occupied Palestinians. One such manifestation is the systematic erasure of the Palestinian history of the country. This is visible in the spraying over Arabic street and place names on road signs. An Arab and an Israeli are searching for the remains of a village they knew was there but cannot locate; no traces remain.

For the political manifestations of the conflict, we include material from the video archive of BTselem, an Israeli Human Rights Organization, and of the Nakba Archive in Beirut. The archival material we selected from BTselem depicts demolitions of Palestinian houses in Jerusalem, army and settlers’ violence against Palestinians, harassment and humiliation of Palestinians at checkpoints. From the Nakba Archive we selected testimonies of first generation Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 from their towns and villages in Galilee.

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Mieke Bal
IBAN: NL85ABNA0949591297

Gustav Mahlerlaan 10
1082 PP Amsterdam
The Netherlands

State of Suspension appeared at the following:
- De Rode Hoed, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 3, 2009 (première, with the participation of the comedians)
- Rome, Royal Dutch Institute Rome, Interculturality Week, 13 October 2015
- Cine Tonalá, Retrospectiva Fílmica Mieke Bal, 20 January 2015
- Pjazza Teatru Rjal, Valletta, Malta, Valletta International Visual Arts (VIVA) Festival, 3 September 2014
- Cinema Logomo, Turku (Finland), 1 September 2013
- Exhibition “Towards the Other,” curated by Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits. Saint Petersburg, Russia, Museum of the History of Saint Petersburg, Peter and Paul Fortress. October 10-29, 2011
- Universität Graz, Graz, Austria, January 13, 2011
- Whose Global Humanities: 2010 annual CHCI meeting, the Cogut Center for the Humanities, Brown University, Providence, RI, US, 15 June, 2010
- Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands, June 6, 2010
- Filmhuiscavia, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, December 20, 2009
- Temple University, Temple Rome Campus, Rome, Italy, June 4, 2009
- Various schools and universities, The Netherlands, September 22 – October 9, 2009, with discussions by the comedians