Directed, Edited and Filmed in the West Bank by Adam Sebire on XDCAM EX 16:9 HD.
Music knows no boundaries. In Bethlehem, Merlijn Twaalfhoven and partners create "Carried by the Wind", a spectacular music performance from atop rooftops and balconies, across the Separation Wall that now divides this holy town.
Uniting 75 professional & amateur musicians from Ramallah and Bethlehem with children from Palestinian West Bank refugee camps, the project culminates in a performance across Israel's Security Fence (also known as the "Segregation Wall" or "West Bank Separation Barrier"), a 700km concrete wall that divides Bethlehem around the area of Rachel's Tomb, at dusk on 17 April 2008. In so doing it reunites former neighbours with music from both sides of the divide. Project website: http://www.arabica.nu
1 September 2009: Asolo Art Film Festival (Italy)
Winner: PREMIO GIAN FRACESCO MALIPIERO. The jury awarded it “...for being a world cadenced with sounds and voices that dialogue with each other and which, on Palestinian land, brought by the wind, come from the other side of every wall.”
24 November 2009: Movisie Art & Culture Festival, 2009(Holland)
Winner: BEST OVERSEAS FILM (€1000 prizemoney). The jury said “This is a film that breaks, in a positive way, images and stereotypes created by the media.”
29 November to 6 December 2009: Dancing on the Edge Festival (Multiple locations throughout Holland)
4,6,13 December 2009: Cinema d'Arte - Città di Vicenza, Italy.
8 April 2009: Movies That Matter Festival, Amsterdam/Utrecht/The Hague (Netherlands)
13 March 2009: Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival (USA)
Throughout 2010: Europe in Shorts, presented by RUHR.2010 European Capital of Culture in cooperation with the film magazine Schnitt.
Carried by the Wind
A music project by Merlijn Twaalfhoven (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Director/Editor/Camera: Adam Sebire (Sydney, Australia)
Production: Gina Asfour (Jerusalem) and La Vie sur Terre
Partners: Sabreen Association for Artistic Development, Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, Centennial Celebration Ramallah Municipality, La Vie sur Terre, Arab Education Institute Open Windows, Al Ruwwaad (Al Rowwad) Cultural Centre (Aida refugee camp) and Khaled Bkir centre for young leadership (Jalazon camp). Supported by Netherlands Fund for Performing Arts
Musicians appearing in the film include Robbert van Hulzen, Noortje Folkertsma, Martin Fondse, Joseph Duqmaq, Toine van Teeffelen, Louis Bohte (rap), Osama the guitarist, John and all the Sabreen percussionists, plus all the refugee children from Aida and Jalazon ... many many thanks to all!
Fighting the Desperation: An interview with Merlijn Twaalfhoven about the project.
Crossing Borders: A short essay on the film for the Europe in Shorts catalogue.
Everything Comes Together In The Editing: An interview with Adam Sebire about the project (reprinted below).
Related Film: Symphony for All
Related Film: Echoes Across the Divide
Symphony Arabica site http://www.arabica.nu
Composer's site http://www.twaalfhoven.net
Filmmaker's site http://www.adamsebire.info
ARTICLE: EVERYTHING COMES TOGETHER IN THE EDITING
Tuesday, 27. July 2010: An interview with Adam Sébire, noted down by Tamar Baumgarten-Noort for Europe in Shorts.
The film CARRIED BY THE WIND was developed in tight cooperation with the composer and initiator of the project Merlijn Twaalhoven. Did you know his work before?
I had met Merlijn three years earlier in Cyprus. I am originally a trombonist and he a violist, and here we discovered we were both interested in the way that music had no respect for political divisions such as borders, checkpoints, barbed wire or walls. So we worked together to document his performance project across the UN Buffer Zone, deploying musicians to rooftops on both sides of Nicosia's infamous Green Line. That was my first introduction to Merlijn's ideas about spatial music, and for sure it presented a lot of challenges for a one-person film crew, to have musicians high up on both sides of what was still a minefield, the former main street of Nicosia! Although it felt a bit chaotic at the time, the film that resulted was very well received, and we even presented it at a screening at the United Nations in New York.
How did you get involved in the project?
In 2008, Merlijn called me in Australia to say he was going to Jordan and the Palestinian Occupied Territories, but that he only had funds to cover expenses, and would I be interested? For sure it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, but I had no hesitation in signing up again! It was only when I made it across the border to join him that I discovered his focus had changed and the performance site was now going to be a location many times more difficult than we faced in Cyprus! But fortunately we had a wonderful Palestinian producer for the project, Gina Asfour, who somehow managed to turn Merlijn's vision into a reality.
The main character of the film is the music. How did you deal with that?
In this case, the organisational realities provided a dramatic narrative: locating the musicians, getting them together for rehearsals, synchronising them across large distances with stopwatches, and most importantly, finding locations along the Israeli Separation Barrier, this massive reinforced concrete wall, which at Bethlehem is three times higher than the one in Berlin. While Merlijn was constantly responding to the changing conditions of the “concert“, the performers were also adding their own ideas, finding their own musical voices within that, which was a great process to be witness too. So I was very keen that the musicians – who gave life to the composition – could tell their stories. So while they are perhaps 'minor characters' they are the ones who ultimatelty give meaning to the performance.
Some images illustrate the music very well. Did you plan to shoot these images or did you collect images on the site and made the decision while cutting the film?
I wanted to try to find some metaphorical imagery, rather than make just pure documentation of the projects. So I looked for a metaphor, and it was already there in Merlijn's title for the composition – the wind, the air that carries the sound waves – so on a windy day I went past the Wall, this terrible dead zone, and found plastic bags and protest posters flapping in the wind – contrasting to the immutable, seemingly immoveable separation barrier.
Was it possible at all to plan how the film was going to look like before?
No, as with most of the films I make with Merlijn, we're lucky if we know 10% of what will happen before we start! It's a bit scary, as a filmmaker, that everything has to come together just in the editing – any scripting before the shoot would be pure fantasy. You just have to hope you get enough good material to suit several possible film outcomes. And certainly, with Cyprus and with Palestine, the "record" of the actual performance is an artificial construction. Part of Merlijn's artistic statement is to choose locations where it's physically impossible to have a perfect perspective on the performance — unless you're a soldier patrolling the Buffer Zone/Wall/Fence, etc. So I have to recreate the experience using multiple microphone and camera angles, and then concatenate the composition in a way that makes musical sense in editing.
Did you have any trouble shooting the film with Israeli soldiers?
During the performance we invited a lot of media, so if a soldier did take a potshot from the watchtower, it was certainly going to be well-documented. Merlijn's theory was that Army rulebooks were unlikely to specify what to do in case of a "musical assault" and so they would probably do nothing. Thankfully, he seems to have been right!
Have people in Israel and Palestine been able to see the film and how did they react?
While we're very pleased that it's being screened at festivals internationally, and even won some prizes, unfortunately it hasn't found an audience in Israel yet – where it could perhaps help in discussions about the Wall's impact. It‘s had a screening in Jerusalem though, and I'm told that an Israeli audience member remarked that the Israeli Army is essential to ensure the Israeli State and to criticise its activities or the Wall is to criticise Israel's existence. The Palestinian musicians were predictably much more positive, since they felt that the concert drew attention to the situation, gave them a voice, showed they were just normal human beings – and also it allowed them to see and hear the performance as a whole for the first time!