Stories from Jerusalem: Faith·Love·Hope·Fear
The First Fictional VR Series by Dani Levy in 360°/VR
Exhibition Stories from Jerusalem: Faith•Love•Hope•Fear
For the exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem, director Dani Levy made four fictional 360°/VR short films in the holy city.
The five- to eight-minute episodes present life at a focal point of the Middle-East conflict from Israeli and Palestinian perspectives, characterized by the dry humor familiar from Levy's other films.
Until June 2018, visitors were able to experience the Stories from Jerusalem and thus the ambivalence and intensity of the city at the side of a stand-up comedian, a soldier at the checkpoint, or a sniper above the rooftops of the Old City directly and immersively with virtual reality glasses in the Glass Courtyard of the Jewish Museum–sometimes as pure observers, while at other times the films address them, involving them in the scenes.
Although the films are no longer shown in the museum, they are still available in the VR apps of ARTE and ZDF and can be accessed via the ARTE VR Website (in German, English, and French) and the ZDF VR Website (in German).
The film plots
Warning: spoiler alert!
Downtown Jerusalem, Yafo Street, Zion Square: A stand-up comedian describes his life in Jerusalem, the holy city of the holy people, surrounded by the holy security barrier.
A cluster of observers stands around him. Passersby stop in their tracks. His jokes are subversive and biting, there's a lot of laughter. The comedian hits the nail on the head, but palpable rage rises in his audience. The viewer becomes involved in the show; suddenly he or she is standing next to the comedian. The audience hurls aggressive interjections. Three passersby lash out at the comedian. They pull him away and threaten him. The situation escalates. The viewer is caught up in it helplessly.
On a bus from the West Bank to East Jerusalem, two young women are among the Palestinian passengers. The bus stops at a checkpoint. Two Israeli border soldiers enter the bus and check their permits and identification. The passengers show their papers without looking up or interrupting their phone conversations. Everyday life in Jerusalem.
The young border soldier stands in front of one of the Palestinian women and looks at her papers. Then he commands her to leave the bus with him for further verification because her papers are expired. He seems uncertain and somewhat awkward, but he covers it up with gruff authority. At first, the Palestinian woman is amused and refuses, but his tone becomes harder. We follow the two of them outside, along the 8-meter tall wall, and into an interrogation tent. The soldier commands her to sit. His tone changes. He asks if she doesn't remember him, from two months ago, back then in the hospital in Hadassah...?
We find ourselves on the rooftops of the Old City. Army sharpshooters monitor a narrow street below in the Old City's bustling bazaar. One of the sharpshooters communicates by radio with someone below in the crowd. At first it's unclear what's going on, then it makes sense. The sharpshooter is negotiating the price of a gold chain by radio. The chain is for his daughter, for her bat mitzvah. We float down into the bazaar. The negotiation becomes louder. Now the merchant is shouting directly up at the roof. The situation becomes grotesque. More soldiers become involved at a high volume, and an argument arises about the value of religious rituals.
Then suddenly an alarm is sounded via radio. The "meshuggeneh" have disappeared into a building, on the rooftop everyone is standing ready. Suddenly he appears on the roof, soaked in sweat, bearing the cross, the crown of thorns on his head...
The viewer is alone in front of a large abandoned construction site. Three children playing soccer there approach and begin to annoy him or her.
A car drives up, and two Arab guards speak to us. This was the parliamentary building for the government of the first Palestinian state, back in the late 1990s, when peace negotiations with Israel looked like they would end with a two-state solution. The guards lead us into the building. It is run-down, with graffiti on the walls, no glass in the windows, and pigeons everywhere. The end of a dream, buried in bird droppings. Suddenly a harsh voice rises from the darkness. Alarmed, the guards follow it. At the back of the hall, a haggard figure sits on a cot...
Film Stills and Photos of the Filming
"Our visitors are transported into the middle of things on the streets of Jerusalem. Until now, fictional VR films have rarely appeared in museums. But this new technology can help surmount the distance between display cases and visitors," says Cilly Kugelmann, curator of the exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem.
|Screenplay and directing||Dani Levy|
|Country of production||Germany|
|Length||5 to 8 minutes per film|
Produced by Medea Film Factory in collaboration with the Jewish Museum Berlin, ZDF, and ARTE.
Supported by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH and Nordmedia Film- und Mediengesellschaft Niedersachsen/Bremen mbH.
The actor, director, and producer Dani Levy was born in Basel and has lived in Berlin since 1980.
After working at Theater Basel and gaining his first experiences directing, in the 1990s, he founded the production firm X Filme Creative Pool together with Stefan Arndt, Wolfgang Becker, and Tom Tykwer. His best-known films include the comedy Alles auf Zucker! (Go for Zucker) and the controversial and much-discussed parody Mein Führer – Die wirklich wahrste Wahrheit über Adolf Hitler (My Führer – The Really Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler).
In 2013, together with other filmmakers, Levy depicted life on the streets of Jerusalem for the TV project 24h Jerusalem (zero one film/BR/ARTE).