Road Movie, a six-screen video installation documenting apartheid in Palestine by Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky of Public Studio, will have its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, 8-18 September 2011.
Toronto International Film Festival was in the news two years ago after artists, filmmakers and cultural workers drafted and endorsed a declaration protesting the festival’s City to City Spotlight on Tel Aviv. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel had put out a call for a targeted boycott of the Spotlight on Tel Aviv.
In 2008, Toronto was selected as a “test market” for a year-long public relations campaign launched by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to improve Israel’s image. Israel’s consul general, Amir Gissin, announced then that the culmination of this “Brand Israel” campaign would be at the TIFF.
Elle Flanders was one of those who drafted the 2009 open letter to the Toronto International Film Festival, which was endorsed by tens of culture-makers and educators. Her and Tamira Sawatzky’s installation portrays the reality that the Spotlight on Tel Aviv sought to whitewash.
According to the film’s description on the Toronto International Film Festival website:
Presented on six double-sided walls and comprised of a series of short films, Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky’s powerful and beautifully nuanced installation, Road Movie, examines contemporary life in Palestine. Residents of the West Bank are confronted with a segregated and impossible road system made all the more problematic and unpredictable by shifting political currents. The subjects of the films — from Palestinian ambulance and taxi drivers to Israeli settlers and human-rights activists (who were all filmed while Flanders and Sawatzky travelled the segregated roads) — offer a unique and unconventional glimpse into the human landscape of this volatile land. Filmed in stop-motion animation, with a screen set-up suggesting the foreboding wall surrounding Palestine, Road Movie is full of arresting and vibrant images, from the deserts of the Jordan Valley to the circumference of Jerusalem. The piece serves as an elegy for people and places that are rarely seen or heard. And for those who no longer see one another.