Beyond the Mountains and Hills

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Beyond Jerusalem’s Separation Barrier

This scene captures a true local paradox: the air raid siren (not a drill) is sounded with an accompanying classical music soundtrack. The melody, it seems, almost preserves the chaos in the routine, as if it were a ritual with its own inherent structure and predetermined codes. Yifat, the girl standing there watching this absurdist scenario play out, knows that a whole people are out there – living beyond the mountains and hills, and the separation barrier. Meanwhile, there is the sight of students running for shelter during the air raid siren and putting on their gas masks – an illustration of the danger posed to them by this people.

Beyond the Mountains and Hills, a film by director Eran Kolirin, is a modern-day Israeli fairy tale, a-la This is our Life. This is best illustrated by Kolirin’s choice to feature a passage from David Avidan’s poem, Power of Attorney, at the start of the film:


What best justifies

the loneliness, the great despair,

the bizarre shouldering of the burden of

profound loneliness and great despair

is the simple, cutting fact

that, essentially, we have nowhere to go.


Kolirin’s choice to draw us into the fictional world of the film with Avidan’s poignant words is anything but arbitrary. He has created a middle-class Israeli family living in the Greater Jerusalem area that he portrays simply and straightforwardly, and without any excessive, over-the-top trimmings. However, peel a couple of surface layers off this so-called garden variety family and you discover a deep emotional wound and profound existential angst hanging over their home.

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