[Palestine] Once I Entered a Garden
Once I Entered a Garden begins from a dream that Avi Mograbi had. It’s 1920, Avi and his grandfather Ibrahim are standing outside their family home in Damascus. Ibrahim tells Avi that the family have decided to move from Damascus for Tel Aviv, and Avi replies to him that he would like to stay “and look after the house”. Upon waking, the filmmaker wonders what language they might have spoken, his grandfather had yet to learn Hebrew, while Avi’s Arabic is rudimentary. Staged as the pre-production for a film, under the guise of looking for the locations for these ‘lost’ geographies, Once I Entered a Garden explores poetically, the possibility of that rêverie, with the complicity of Ali al-Azhari, Avi’s Arabic teacher and friend, a Palestinian from Saffuriyya (near Nazareth), who has spent most of his adult life in Tel-Aviv. Al-Azhari’s young daughter Yasmin, whose father is Palestinian and mother Israeli, is the third protagonist of the film. As the film unravels, a lapsed geography of communal co-existence emerges with humor and tenderness. That which seems unimaginable becomes effortlessly real, like secret gardens hidden within.
Israeli filmmaker and video artist Avi Mograbi was born in 1956 in Tel Aviv, where he lives and works to this day. Having studied art and philosophy, he gained his first production experience working as an assistant director on commercials and feature films, while his own filmmaking career began in 1989. Since 1999, he has taught documentary and experimental film at Tel Aviv University and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Mograbi, one of Israel’s most distinguished filmmakers, is known for his unwavering commitment to social, cultural and political justice in the Middle East, as well as his experimental and innovative contribution to cinematic language. As an engaged filmmaker, he is actively involved in Breaking the Silence, an organization dedicated to collecting the testimonies of Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied Palestinian territories. His filmography includes the feature-length documentaries, Between Fences (2016), Once I Entered a Garden (2012), Z32 (2008), Avenge but One of My Two Eyes (2005), August (2002), Happy Birthday, Mr. Mograbi (1999) and How I Learned to Overcome My Fear and Love Arik Sharon (1997), The Reconstruction (1994).
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