Filming Homeland Insecurity in Jerusalem

- by Alexander Jones, Green Olive VP -

Let's begin with a big 'thank you', a giant 'toda' and a huge 'shoukran'. Our Kickstarter campaign to fund the second film in our Homeland Insecurity series was an overwhelming success and with your support, we raised over US$11000. Keeping in mind there are a lot of fees and costs, this still leaves us with a nice budget for the film.

Filming among the tombs of the ancient Jewish cemetery
And we wasted no time. The fundraising drive had been closed for just a few hours when our senior tour guide and the film's presenter, Yahav Zohar, set out with film maker Moran Barir to begin shooting. The Mount of Olives is usually buzzing with tourists getting the perfect morning shot of the sun glistening off the golden capped Dome of the Rock, but it was eerie being atop the hill on Friday with no-one else around. Indeed, many of the Christian sites usually crowded with pilgrims were closed altogether, but we still had plenty of material and much less  background noise and distraction!

Yahav's carefully research and refined script was the perfect accompaniment to the cinematic eye of Moran, who knows all the best ways to get the most out of her talent and how to use the camera to tell the story. We spent most of the morning shooting up and down the Mount, and after a good chat with the Palestinian parking attendant while filming outside the Beit Hachoshen settlement ("Look around, we're already in the best place in the world. Why would a Palestinian sell a house here? What could you do with that money, where would you even go?") it was time for lunch.

Ismael back in the saddle of his trusty Mercedes van
We found that cold drinks and leafy salads were the perfect fuel for brainstorming, as the second half of the day came together around the lunch table. We met with Green Olive's transportation manager, Ismael Hedra, who has spent most of his life on the Mount of Olives and is going to co-host part of the film. Although he hasn't been driving our international groups through checkpoints and to the airport, he has been keeping busy driving school children ("They make a lot more noise that Green Olive tourists, and I have to clean the bus much more often!") which helps his big family get by.

All of them have been negatively effected by the coronavirus restrictions, and both his eldest son and daughter are getting married next week. He also told us about the difficulties for some of the other bus companies, who are already having their vehicles seized by banks. Just as well Green Olive has been running debt free since day one.

Every Friday, Ismael visits Masjid al-Aqsa, the nearby Aqsa Mosque, and his passion for this place was clear when he quoted the Koran and told us how any worries fade away whenever he is at prayer there. We also filmed homes which had been demolished by the Israeli authorities because they didn't have the correct permits, permits which are almost impossible to obtain within East Jerusalem. We ended the shoot with the best view in town; from the balcony of Ismael's own house! His lovely wife served us Arabic coffee - rich, sweet and strong - and we discussed one of the main themes of the film; the difficulty of visiting his extended family who live just a kilometre way, but on the other side of the dreaded Wall.

Best view in town (of illegal settlements, checkpoints and walls, but still)
Our return to the coast was interrupted only briefly by a flat tyre. In typical Palestinian fashion, we had all the friendly help we needed to quickly get running again. Just one of the perils of a full day of video work! Yahav, Moran and Ismael were hard at it again from 7am the next day, and this week Moran is doing the really time consuming bit; the hours of chopping footage, editing and graphic design. We're excited to see how things progress.

Stay tuned for the next update!


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