Cert: 12A | ★★★★✩
Germany-based Israeli filmmaker Yael Reuveny (Farewell Herr Schwarz) broaches her complex relationship with her home country in this gorgeously layered and honest documentary feature. Soon to premiere on UK Jewish Film’s streaming services, Promise Lands delves deep into the director’s struggle to reconcile with the country she left almost 15 years earlier.
“When I think of 1988, I remember how proud I was back then. Israel was 40 and we were eight” she declares at the start of her film. Through faded home videos and archival news footage, Reuveny recalls the excitement she and her school friends felt back then. Part of a generation raised to believe that peace was within their grasp, she wonders what became of her school friends and whether they have fared better or worse than her.
Through a series of interviews, Reuveny compares her experiences with those who chose to stay. From her apartment in Germany, she recalls how instead of the snowy forests and wide empty streets she had hoped to disappear into in Europe, she felt trapped in a conflict of being an immigrant and all the struggles that come with that status. Brought up with a great sense of patriotic duty and Zionist pride, she wonders if she still feels the same way.
From the timid kid who grew up to be a techno DJ, to the boy who went on to voluntarily serve his country beyond his allotted military service period, Yael’s former schoolmates all have one thing in common, they all love their birthplace in their own way, even when they don’t see themselves represented by its political classes. Amid air-raid sirens and uncertainty, we laugh, cry and share the hopes and dreams of an eclectic bunch of people who grew up to represent many facets of a country full of contradictions.
Reuveny’s film is both honest and genuinely touching, a universal yet personal account of a woman attempting to understand her own relationship with the country she left and the guilt she now feels. She presents a “warts and all” look into what it’s like to grow up in Israel and the hopes and dreams of future generations.
Available from Thursday May 12 at 6pm to Sunday May 15 at 6pm on UK Jewish Film.