The First 54 Years – An Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation
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Directed by: Avi Mograbi
Released: 2022 (educational)
Year of Production: 2021
Running Time: 110 min
Language: English, Hebrew
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies
“Military occupation” is an abstract term, open to mistaken interpretation. What does “occupation” imply? What does it mean for people living under occupation? What means must be employed so that occupation can be implemented?
This film instills meaning in the term “occupation” in the form of a “manual for military occupation” derived from the testimonies of those people who implemented it in practice. Director Avi Mograbi hosts the viewers in his living room and provides insights to how a colonialist occupation works, the logic behind the practices that it produces and the different modes of thought needed to be applied at different situations in order to maintain it. In his presentation Mograbi is using the 54-year Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a case study.
The occupation as we see it is like a creature with an infinite number of heads. Each head is a good person, who served in the Israeli army and was stationed in the Occupied Territories, where he completed the missions imposed on him, and ultimately believed that he was taking part in fulfilling Israel’s conception of security. Almost every Jewish Israeli served in the army and played a part, whether directly or indirectly, in the day-to-day maintenance of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There have been many generations of laborers who did the dirty work, who learned the trade and passed it on to one another, from father to son, so that the next generation would know how to grease the cogs of military control. A miniscule group of them appears in this film and breaks down this service into daily activities. These are testimonies and not opinions. The witnesses in this film do not describe their thoughts or positions concerning what they did. They simply talk about what they did and about the actions that they were required to participate in, so that the occupation could exist then and continue to exist into the future. Not one of these activities is essential to the persistence of the occupation, but together, they constitute the occupation’s very essence.
Gijón International Film Festival Nominee for Best Film
Nyon Visions du Réel Nominee for Grand Prix International Feature Film
Palm Springs International Film Festival Nominee for Bridging the Borders Award
Torino Film Festival Winner 'Gandhi's Glasses Award' - Special Mention
Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Special Winner
“as a film explicitly interested in deconstructing the very calculated forms of escalation that one dominant nation—in both their military arsenal and political pull in the United Nations—has imposed on a far weaker one for decades, it’s a persuasive, economical dissection of events that sheds light on the grievances of the Palestinian people that have long fallen on deaf ears." – Slant Magazine
“the film is an essential explanation of Israeli objectives and the systematic subjugation of a people, deserving international attention.” – Variety
About the filmmaker
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 experiences 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 experimentalism and innovative contribution to cinematic language.
Avi Mogrbi's documentary films have been programmed by festivals worldwide, including: Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Rome, New York, FID Marseille, Vision du Reel and San Francisco, among others.