Route 181

Route 181, Fragments d'un Voyage en Palestine/Israël

Cesta 181

Script: Eyal Sivan, Michel Khleifi
Photography: Eyal Sivan, Michel Khleifi
Editing: Eyal Sivan, Michel Khleifi
Sound: Eyal Sivan, Michel Khleifi
Color: Colour

In the summer of 2002, two directors, a Palestinian and an Israeli, travelled along the borders established in November 1947 by the UN General Assembly in Resolution No. 181. According to this resolution, Israel and an Arab state were to come into existence on the territory of the former British mandate of Palestine. This was adamantly rejected by Arab countries, which voted against the resolution and even attacked the newly formed Israeli state. On the other side, the founding of Israel was often accompanied by the forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Arab inhabitants.

In an expansive 270-minute epic documentary these fictive boundaries become the axis for a comprehensive foray into the physical and mental reality of this land, a film that in exceptional breadth draws attention to all the nuances of the current situation.

An extra-film detail: The French Ministry of Culture attempted to have the film’s screening cancelled at the Paris documentary film festival Cinéma du Réel. A press release issued by the Ministry together with Centre Pompidou and Bibliothèque Publique d´Information suggested that the film might provoke intense feelings especially among those concerned about the anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish atmosphere in France, and it was also suggested that the film could evoke negative sentiments towards Israel.

The film’s directors described this move as scandalous, and they were backed among others by the director Jean-Luc Godard and the philosopher Etienne Balibar. The broad territory the film covers offers a countless number of individual interpretations and an equal number of misinterpretations. It is at all times, however, a partial reading of this socio-political exploration through film, which unfolds en route, observes, but never initiates or comments on a situation.

The state of affairs in a land inhabited by two antagonistic sides is not perceived as a phenomenon that in varied interpretations has become a cliché, applied where necessary to specific events. On the contrary, the authors’ intention is to understand the situation from within, moving through space, without attempting to typologize or generalize, and never denying that someone else may have an entirely different experience.

Photo Gallery

Momento! Productions / France /
Festival edition: 2005
Sections: Baedecker
Exhibition format: DV CAM


The author of the official spot is renowned director Jean-Luc Godard