Dir. Eyal Resh, 2016, Germany, 10 min., German, Hebrew w/ English subtitles
In November’s Online Short, notions of collective, historic memory arise during an Israeli mother’s increasingly uneasy encounter with an elderly German woman on a Berlin-bound train. We experience a narrowing of time and space, but perhaps also a surprising understanding. Watch the film and read an interview with director Eyal Resh below:
JFI: What inspired you to make this film?
Resh: I got the idea for this story from my mother, based on an experience we had in Germany when I was a four years old. Since then, and up until I shot the film, my mother has refused to return to Berlin. The reactions of the women in the film, like my mother and many others, are not based on their own memories from the Second World War. Rather, they are inherited collective memories.
JFI: What was your greatest challenge during the filmmaking process?
Resh: Aside from shooting on the S-bahn in Berlin (which is not as easy as it seems), the greatest challenge was to work with my main actress, Keren, and the child, Robin.
First- they didn’t know each other until the day before we shot. The rehearsal process was focusing around them getting to know each other. Going to the park, playing hide and seek etc.
They didnt’ know exactly what is happening in the film. Keren never read the script. She knew what the film is about generally and for Robin it was just a train ride with a lady trying to communicate with him.
Also, Keren and Robin never met Almunt (the older lady) before the shoot.
The encounter that happens on the train in the film actually happened for the first time as we were shooting.
“Not giving my actors too much information was a bold choice that raised many challenges throughout the shoot, but Im happy I took it because it allowed them all to perform freely.”
JFI: Any thoughts you’d like to share about screening this film in a Jewish context?
Resh: Arrival deals with two fundamental elements of cinema and history: Time and space, and the dynamic relationship between them. While I developed the story for this film in Berlin, I was living in the same space: I walked the same streets, I heard the same language, I saw the same buildings, but I was free. On the train, the boy forces an encounter; the same way I did as a child, same as I am doing today with Arrival. I have been told to hold on to the past because it should never happen again…but that doesn’t mean we can’t change. As the generation that shapes the future, it is my responsibility and my true hope that we can remember; yet heal, grow and reconcile.
JFI: What film/media has inspired you lately?
Resh: Son of Saul is a remarkable piece. For years now I’m thinking about a story around the Sonderkommando unit.
I also appreciated the way the film was shot. It is a very bold decision to stay most of the film in a medium close up on the character. It created a very intimate and personal mood to the film. I appreciated both its boldness and subtlety — it did not show the horror verbatim but kept it present throughout every moment of the piece.
JFI: What do you do when you’re not filmmaking?
Resh: I cook. It’s kind of the same for me as filmmaking. I consume art from all kinds–museums, films, theatre, galleries, books and more.
And, I mostly experience and observe life–people, situations, relationships etc. I truly believe life is the biggest source of inspiration.
JFI: Lastly, gefilte fish: delicious, or disgusting?
Resh: I love it! But without the rubbery- green thing that comes on top.
Each month, the Jewish Film Institute presents a new free short film to watch online from emerging voices in Jewish documentary, narrative and experimental filmmaking, accompanied by an interview with the film’s director. To watch more JFI Online Shorts, visit the archive of free films here.