Friday, November 4, 2022

Other Israel Film Festival Spotlight: 1341 Frames of Love and War

I’m delighted to be returning for the eighth time to cover the Other Israel Film Festival, which features a diverse crop of thought-provoking and often difficult, complex, Israeli and Palestinian cinema and is hosted by the JCC Manhattan. The 16th Annual Other Israel Film Festival runs virtually and in-person November 3rd-10th, 2022.

1341 Frames of Love and War
Directed by Ran Tal
Ticket Information

It’s interesting to see movies made about the art of photographs since the two mediums are inherently very different. One affords the opportunity to see people move and hear them speak, while the other captures a specific moment in time, leaving its meaning to be interpreted based only on what can be seen within it. Reflecting back on photographs long after they have been taken can be especially rewarding, because memory fades and brings with it an ability to look back and consider the circumstances of a photo being taken and what additional significance it has gained in that time.

Micha Bar-Am’s collection of photographs, captured over the course of half a century, are the subject of “1341 Frames of Love and War.” The film is composed almost exclusively of the pictures on screen accompanied by Bar-Am and his wife Orna speaking about them. There are some instances in which director Ran Tal asks him questions and he responds “don’t ask me about it” either because he doesn’t think it’s interesting or he doesn’t want to think back and dwell on it, and it’s not always clear whether or not there’s more to the story or if he merely just wishes to move on to something more significant in his mind.

Some of Bar-Am’s photos have become extremely well-known within Israel and other places, and there’s one in particular that finds both Bar-Am and Orna reflecting on how he had felt about it and how he now sees it in a different context. Soldiers looking at the Israeli flag on the Dome of the Rock in 1967 and a soldier wearing an ammunition belt that looks like a tallit (prayer shawl) might to many convey the triumphant return of the Jewish people to a historical land, but instead now remind him only of the connection between religion and power that he sees as potentially problematic and negatively influential in society.

While the content of Bar-Am’s collection, which is shown in great detail throughout this documentary’s ninety minutes, speaks for itself and might be fascinating enough merely shown in slideshow form with no commentary. But it’s hearing from the artist himself, who is now ninety-two years old, that adds a considerable dimension and power to it, along with his wife’s perspective on how it has shaped him. The discussions of how memory adjusts to photographs rather than the other way around are extremely compelling, and Tal approaches his subject and his work in an eager and inviting fashion, allowing him to share as much of himself as he is willing.


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