Khaled Jarrar's Infiltrators screens in Beirut

Palestinians resort to smugglers to cross the separation barrier

Events and Festivals, Palestine

Khaled Jarrar's Infiltrators screens in Beirut

After Five Broken Cameras made headlines with its nominations for the Oscars, the Beirut Film Days screened two more Palestinian documentaries in March: Gaza 36mm and Infiltrators. In this second film, Palestinians attempt to climb over or under the seven-metre-high barrier on the edge of the Palestine.

From art to documentary

Khaled Jarrar is a career activist. And he is a visual artist. He lives in Ramallah and in his works, performances, and videos focuses on his birthplace, Palestine.

His documentary Infiltrators was partly produced by Palestinian company Idioms Film, one that finances low-budget documentaries and experimental films. The film won two awards at the last Dubai Film Festival.

Responding to a need to capture reality, Infiltrator films Palestinians passing over from the West Bank to Jerusalem, over and under the seven-metre high wall that separates this land in two.

Jarrar had already tackled this topic in 2009, in Voyage 110, a shorter documentary.

This time in Infiltrators, the men and women that he follows from one side of the wall not only travel down a tunnel but have also set up a system to climb over the wall, with barriers, ladders or even ropes.

The film is essentially built around these tricks to climb over this concrete border.

The quality of the shots is sometimes bad, as they can be unstable or too pixellated. But it's tricky, when one is filming in a hurry and illegally, to focus on the aesthetics. Especially when it's night and the slightest mobile phone light could attract the attention of Israeli soldiers.

At the heart of the action

The crossing is not without its dangers. Those who cross are neither fighters nor activists. Often they take the risk of being detained or wounded for basic needs: to find food or medicine, to see a doctor, or to visit a family member.

Those who attempt the adventure have no pass. We understand how difficult it is to obtain one during a unique scene at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank. In these shots, Israeli soldiers arbitrarily choose those who will cross and those who won't. For those who are sent back, there is only one option: smugglers. Are these men resistants or do they see what they do as a way of earning money?

The filmmaker doesn't choose sides and, if he does provide an answer, it's ambiguous. Instead, he films the continuous, very similar, and often succesful clamberings up the wall. The film sadly ends with an arrest.

The viewer's only regret is that, without an offscreen narrator, commentary, or any explications, they will never know what happened to Ali, the worker taken off by the Israeli police, nor to any of the men or women who cross over the wall.

The crossings are stories without second parts or endings, and in that perhaps lies the filmmaker's political message.


Anaïs Renevier


Infiltrators - Trailer:


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