#13: Meet LUCY MARTENS

21 10 2009

Film:  VOICES FROM INSIDE – ISRAELIS SPEAK*

LUCY MARTENS, director/producer

Screening: Oct 24th, 3:30pm – Peace in the Middle East Program

*DISTINGUISHED FILM: Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award Winner, 2009*

This film is based on the stories of 16 Jewish Israeli voices of conscience, each representing a different facet of the peace movement inside Israel. Through their eyes and unique perspectives, the film traces Zionism from its beginnings to the reality that exist today, with brutal honesty.

It is a film about personal development, the evolution of consciousness of each person, moving from a perspective of nationalist myths to a revelation regarding moral choices for their society – a society that is permeated and defined by militarism and denial.

These cross-generational voices have all chosen to break Israel’s silence. They have created a path of transcendence, reconciliation and solidarity alongside the Palestinians, forging a path for real peace.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

I was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. Having a german father and an english mother I was confronted with two different cultures from a young age. My grandparents and parents lived in the far east for many years and passed on to me a curiosity and openness towards traveling and experiencing other countries.

I studied Film and History in London, finished my degree and then left to live for three years in the Middle East, using Dubai as my main base. It was in Dubai that I discovered the world of documentary as a vehicle to explore and understand what is going on around us.

My first job consisted of logging hours of wildlife footage for “Arabia’s Cycle of life”, a 13 part series designed to create awareness of the diversity of Arabia’s wildlife. And thus I began my editing career. When the project was finished, I could not wait to create something myself. And so, with a friend,  I set off to Beirut. There, for two months, we followed and filmed the Druze Faith in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel. We never finished editing the film, but the whole making of it was a learning experience.

After Beirut, I went to Israel, where I stayed for two months. There I shot my first feature film: “Voices From Inside”.

I loved the region and wanting to see more of the Muslim World, I went to Afghanistan for the first time in 2006. Even though my base is now Berlin, I still frequently go back to Kabul. My current project is a documentary on the Afghan cricket team’s quest for World Cup qualification, which will be broadcasted on BBC summer 2010.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

I always knew that I wanted to combine work with traveling and experiencing situations first-hand. And I found it important that my work had meaning and could help bring about change. Before I went to university in London, I saw a documentary which affected me deeply, so deeply in fact that it made me realize that uncovering the injustices of the world was what I wanted to devote my life to. The film was about the dying rooms in China, where orphaned girls are tied to chairs and just left to die. It was appalling. The one-child chinese policy and the second-rate status of girls means that only boys are valued and wanted.

My first great challenge was when I traveled alone to Israel to film “Voices From Inside”. My camera skills were still not highly developed then, but I knew I had the will and passion to learn. I was scared of the military presence and border police, but I had a mission. After Israel I knew that I had the strength and ambition to improve my film making and go to places that were not always danger-free. Since then I have been several times to Afghanistan, filmed for CNN, UNICEF and other charities.

Even though I had studied Film at University, I think that I only really learnt this craft by being constantly thrown into cold water and having to deal with it. I knew that I wanted to be a documentary film maker and never lost touch of my aim. I love the challenges and am still learning from my experiences today.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

The idea came from Marjorie Wright, the producer of ‘Voices From Inside’. I met her in Dubai and she was very much involved in the peace movement in Palestine. I got to know her and she started sending me articles from alternative media sources that changed my mind about the situation in Israel and Palestine. As a german, I was used to the kind of one-sided media indoctrination that never allowed any questioning of Israel’s use of military force. I had never heard of the occupation, hadn’t heard of the settlements, hadn’t heard of the only jewish roads, didn’t understand why the building of the wall affected so many Palestinian lives, never understood what the Palestinians were actually fighting for. But after spending time in the West Bank and experiencing first-hand the incredible injustices that are happening there on a daily basis, I could not let the topic go.

Marjorie’s idea was to base this film on the “one state solution”, as written in the book “Obstacles to Peace” by Jeff Halper. She offered to pay for my trip, and asked me to interview solely jewish Israelis to hear their side. With the help of Angela Godfrey, a highly engaged peace activist, we contacted 16 different characters involved in the peace movement in Israel, all who were very willing to talk. These interviews were much more than pure factual accounts for they became highly personal and branched far beyond the issue of the one state solution. Perhaps this is because even in a peace movement most activists don’t have the answer.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

My favorite line is when Yehuda Shaul, one of the IDF soldiers from the organization “Breaking the Silence” looks into the camera and says: “You don’t know what to do with yourself, you look into the mirror and all you see is evil. This is when we decided to break the silence.”

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

Documentaries have helped me to see how much injustice is going on in the world. One of my favorite documentaries is “War Dance”, which tells the story of refugee children in Northern Uganda taking part in a national dancing competition. It is beautifully shot, edited and narrated. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in a film.

“Into this World”  by Michael Winterbottom is another amazingly honest film. It is a documentary about two Afghan children trying to flee to Britain.

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25 10 2009
CLOSING NIGHT AWARDS GALA « ARPA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

[…] “Voices from Inside – Israelis Speak.” […]

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