We chose the hamlet of Beit Jeez in from the hundreds of Palestinian villages that were cleansed in 1948. Maryam was scouting locations for her film, and she was looking for a ’48 village where one scene in particular needed to be shot. It was the scene where the protagonist and his girlfriend go after robbing the bank, the place they hole up while they decide whether to continue going on with their crime spree, or to leave for good. It was important that it take place in the ruins of a ’48 village.
Her travels had taken her all around, from the areas around Umm al-Fahim in the triangle, to old villages in the plain between Acre and Haifa, to even the upper Galilee, to old hilltop villages overlooking the south of Lebanon. Once, in the village of Bir‘im where a Maronite church still stood partly intact, she’d found a group of women sitting, looking off into the distance. When she spoke to them, she realized from their accent that they were Lebanese. Talking with them, she found out they’d come with their families in 2000 when the Israeli occupation came to an end and could probably never go back. Now, they said, they lived in a nearby Palestinian Israeli village where no women would speak to them and where their husbands could find no work, not even with the IDF. The rest of their families lived in Jewish cities like Nahariya and Safad where they felt even more miserable and isolated. Many had already returned, though who knows what would be in store for those who did.
They often hitched a ride to the place on Fridays where they sat picnicking until sunset. They offered Maryam apples and sweet tea the day she was there. While she sat with them, they pointed out Mt. Meron, Mt. Hermon, the Golan, and even the faintest traces of the Shuf Mountains far to the North. Unfortunately, as compelling as these locations were, they didn’t feel right for the film. Maryam had so far had already seen more than 50 locations, she’d know the right one when it came along. (Read More)