What does home mean?

Young Germans and Israelis reflect on their experience of homeland and home – in short films. The project was organised in collaboration with the German Film Institute.

sabee/Sabine Imhof - Youth

Karina is standing in front of a grass-green wall and is supposed to be expressing anger. Her team is filming the scene again in the rooms of the German Film Museum because the sound was not good enough the first time. But now she is 
embarrassed by the number of people standing around, so she asks them all to leave. A few minutes later she can be heard through the closed door shouting away. So that was another scene for the film The Sound of Home done without 
further delay.

Things are going very well for the four groups who gathered for a week in Frankfurt am Main for the binational film project. A total of 26 young people from Israel and from the Max Beckmann School in Frankfurt were given a week’s time to make short films on the theme of “My home is …”. The task involved developing a concept, dividing up the assignments, the film shoots, editing and sound tracking – for all of which a week is in fact rather short. That’s why on this particular Friday the 16- and 17-year olds are sitting highly concentrated in front of laptops, cutting letters for the closing credits or playing guitars. One documentary film and three features have to be ready in time for the closing presentation on Sunday.

One of the films is called Save Home and 
is about a teenager whose parents are in the process of separating. Alice is doing the editing: “It’s about privacy, home and family,” she explains. “The parents tell the main character that he has to decide which of them he will live with – but he doesn’t want to do this.” The character, Omer, is looking over her shoulder. The young people speak English with one another so that everyone in the team understands what’s going on. That’s important for these binational groups, who have been very quick to get to know one an­other. “It was no problem at all to divide up the tasks,” says Alice, “and we were also quickly agreed on the theme.”

Those responsible for the overall project are astonished at how quickly the young people get to know one another and mix. No one speaks English perfectly, but 
well enough to communicate. The young 
people from Frankfurt, of whom many are from immigrant families, got involved in the project through an afternoon work group about Israel at the Max Beckmann School, so they already had an interest in their new Israeli acquaintances. The latter live in Ayanot, one of about 125 Youth 
Villages belonging to the largest Jewish Children’s Emergency Organisation Youth Aliyah. About one third of the 15,000 
children who receive support come from Ethiopia, another third from the states of the former Soviet Union, whereby a large number of them immigrated to Israel without parents or are orphans. Another third were born in Israel and come from dysfunctional families or are orphans. In the Youth Villages they are offered a 
new home and receive vocational training. The project with the German Film Institute was initiated by Youth Aliyah and realised with support from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media. It provides insight into a branch of industry that often seems difficult to 
access. The joint film week took place for the first time in 2013 and will be repeated in 2015 if it continues to receive funding.

Most of the necessary equipment was rented out especially by the Film Museum. A director, a film teacher and the film 
educationalist Alia Pagin are available to support the young people in their work. Alia Pagin sits in the room of the group that is making the film One of Many. They have come up with an unusual idea. “They are real artists,” she says full of praise. 
The young people wanted to tell the story of two refugees and filmed statues and used projections to present their experiences. The two refugees interviewed, a girl from Eritrea and a boy from Iran, 
did not want to have their names and 
faces revealed, so Omer spoke the text that links both stories. “What happened 
to them happens every day,” says Brano, the cameraman. “We have refugees in 
the group and their stories resemble one 
another. So it was quite logical to have just one voice in the film.”

The group whose film is called Stuck and Go also engaged with the theme of feeling alien in the place where you live. In the film a half-Iranian girl explains what it is like to be brought up strictly in an environment where friends seem to be able to 
do what they like. As a result, she does not really feel she belongs. Two girls with the same experience meet at a bus stop and talk about it. At the moment, the young people are out filming that scene.

Two days later, some rather exhausted-looking young film makers present their short films in the cinema of the German Film Museum. They are very proud that they all finished on time. The representative of the City of Frankfurt, Treasurer Uwe Becker, is also impressed. “When you see how intensely and harmoniously young people from Israel and Germany work together here, how they jointly 
create something very worth seeing and in doing so become friends, then the 
project is certainly worthwhile,” he says. “Even more gratifying is that four great films have emerged from their collaboration.” David Cohen-Levy from the Israeli Ministry of Education is also delighted about the good contacts made: “If young people from Israel and Germany are able to get on so well with one another today, then I feel confident about how our two countries will get on in the future.” Later, the young people were not at all happy about having to say goodbye. But at a 
time when contact is easy to maintain on the Internet, their friendships will surely endure.

The videos can be viewed at: deutsches-filminstitut.de/filmmuseum/museumspaedagogik/Aliyah