Written by Andrea Pierson; posted by Dustin Jenkins.
Two Blue Lines, a feature-length documentary directed by Film Division Professor Tom Hayes, will premiere at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday, January 27th.
“The film found me,” says Hayes. The documentary was shot over a 25-year period with Hayes filming anywhere from three weeks to a couple of months at a time. The film examines the human and political situation of Palestinian people from the years prior to the creation of Israel to the present day. By primarily featuring the narratives of Israelis whose positions run counter to their country’s official policy, Hayes provides a portrait of the ongoing conflict not often depicted in the mainstream media. Two Blue Lines was filmed in Jerusalem, Southern Lebanon, Bethlehem, Jenin, and Gaza. The film is a combination of verité and interview footage with historical interludes. Hayes describes the structure as “freewheeling” and “sort of a pointillist piece.” There is no narration and the individual pieces “create an overall impression that is disturbing.” The nonlinear form explores ideas of how government policies impact lives.
Hayes’ first documentary explored the refugee camps on the Cambodian Border. What started as an innocent observation as a stranger in a neolithic, strange land turned into a need to do something meaningful after witnessing the horrors of the refugee experience. It was either become a doctor or pick up a camera. “I don’t describe myself as an artist,” says Hayes. “I see film as utilitarian…and I needed to do something meaningful to help in some capacity.”
Two Blue Lines is Hayes’ third film that examines impacted Palestinian and Israeli lives. While his first film on the topic, Native Sons: Palestinians in Exile (1985), was a “gentle film” on refugee camps in Southern Lebanon, the backlash against the film was Hayes’ eye opener and motivation to further his relationship with the topic. “If I couldn’t change it, I could make a document,” says Hayes.
The one thing he realized after his first experiences in Palestine is that he can’t look away. To show the further deterioration of the families he met in the beginning, to know them as people and humans, to have attended their weddings and family gatherings as friends, seeing their children grow up in that environment - he feels these films are “conduits for voices not heard in the United States. It is not an intellectual exercise. I am riveted to this.” Not to mention the United States’ relation to Israel that further perpetuates the conflict. His goal is to create a real discussion, and to engage and come to resolutions, essentially, in Hayes’s words, “to destroy the myth of Israel’s monolithic society.”
Hayes plans for a festival run after having the prestigious honor to premiere at the Wexner Center. He hopes that the film will be picked up by Al Jazeera, shown in synagogues and throughout the Arab world, and seen by every American.