My last few days in Israel were so awesome--just in time to make me really sad to leave. When I departed after the initial shooting trip, I knew that I would eventually be coming back to Israel to screen Jericho's Echo, but this time I was just being reminded of how much I care about so many of the people in the film when I had to pack up and leave...and I really don't know when or if I will ever see some of them again. I left with a heavy heart, but also with the feeling that I am lucky to have made my first feature about such a generally cool group of people, and that I definitely want to keep making movies!
In a blur of interviews, meetings, and goodbyes a few things stand out. People have been asking about these mysterious "meetings" but there is not much to report yet. I basically made it my business to get copies of the movie into the hands of people from almost every major TV network in Israel in the hopes that it will get picked up for Israeli broadcasting, so I will keep you posted on that. I also talked to some cool guys (Harry and Jeremy) involved in promoting alternative views of Israel in worldwide media, about how we could scratch each other's backs. Some interesting possibilities there.
The good stuff, as always, is the band stuff, and I got plenty of that in my last couple days. I was running around trying to interview as many of the original "characters" from the movie as I could before leaving the country, and although I didn't hit *everybody* there will be plenty of great material for the "Updates" section of the DVD. On the second-to-last night the theme was Dizengoff street punks as I did the follow-ups with Lital, Dennis and Tom from Smash4$ and Assi and Ori from Chaos Rabak. I was a bit intimidated to meet Lital, as she seems like such a tough girl in the movie (After all, she is the one that admits,"I like to fight once in a while."). However, just like everyone else, she was super nice and seeing her snuggle with her little kitten and her live-in boyfriend Amos (the same one she is seen with in a few b-roll shots in the movie) broke down any potential misconceptions. She is now 19-years-old and she and Amos are talking about marriage. He even has a tattoo picturing two skulls with mohawks and the word "FOREVER." The two skulls, of course, represent himself and Lital. Romance, punk style.
(Lital and Amos)
After Lital, I went over to Dennis and Tom's to finally do their interview. I say "finally" because although I saw them more than pretty much anyone else, we didn't do their interview until my second-to-last night in town. This was partly because I knew I would see them so there was no rush to do it but also because the interviews all felt kind of final and I didn't really want to admit that I'd have to say goodbye to them. When I spoke above about the people I was sad to say goodbye to, these guys are definitely at the top of the list. The interview was really funny. In fact, a lot of the follow-up interviews have been funny. A lot of the punks said to me that the movie was "too serious," and that although they do plenty of it in the movie, they don't really discuss politics in their every day lives. I think Dennis and Tom especially were trying to make up for the seriousness of the movie by being hilarious in their follow-up interview. They even had Kafel, the Smash4$ bass player, turn the camera on me for some questions, mostly involving whether or not I thought they could get laid if their band came to the U.S. I'm a lot more comfortable *behind* the camera but I think they wanted to give me a taste of my own medicine!
Next in line was Ori, from Chaos Rabak. He is the one whose mohawk silhouette is pictured on the website and t-shirts of the movie. He works the nightshift alone at the "Shakespree," conveniently located between Lital and Smash4$'s apartments and right around the corner from Avital's where I was staying. The Shakespree is a venerable institution known for smashing a variety of tasty toppings into frozen yogurt and shakes and serving it up in a big plastic cup. The Shakespree stands are open all night long and I can't even imagine the amount of money they've lost for all of the free shakes given to the punk rockers of the Sheinkin/Hamelech George area. It turns out that for Ori, not much has changed since the movie was shot. Chaos Rabak broke up and he is now in a new band with the lovely title "The Testicles." It was another funny interview, anyway, and I hope it turns out allright depsite the loud hum of all the machines involved in making the perfect milkshake. While I was there, Assi from Chaos Rabak (the one with the religious brother) showed up and so I interviewed him as well. As I mentioned in one of the earlier posts, he is taking an audio engineering course. He is a really smart guy and I think he has more potential than almost any of the street punks to make a good future for himself.
Later that night (technically early the following morning) I said goodnight to Dennis and went out with Tom and his cool new girlfriend Markiela (sp?) to a bar that plays electroclash music. Shmida and Amit from HaPussy shel Lussy and Yonantan Gatt from Punkache were all there on their own accord...it really is a small country. Slept for a few hours and then met up with an Israeli producer who is willing to help me with some negotiations with TV stations. He had just returned from the MIP film market in France that morning and was also operating on only a few hours sleep, so I think it went well!
After trying all week, I finally managed to arrange a meeting and hummus eating extravaganza with the infamous Gutzy (the kid sitting in the grass in the film, who has also acted as a production assistant for the past year). We combined his intervew with Nadav, Yotam from Useless ID's little brother. Both of them have grown up a lot since I was here last. Nadav is looking so much like the Yotam I first met when Useless ID came to the states 7 or 8 years ago. Bravo, genetics! We did the interview in the men's bathroom of some seemingly abandoned building near the Patiphone. It was funny and looked very punk rock. Nadav is 17 now and Gutzy is 20. Gutzy did not end up joining the military, and he is still playing in bands and running the Israeli punk website gutzy.com. He is also an incredibly talented graphic designer and I hope he gets off of his punk ass and does something worthwhile with has mad skills one of these days. He did not end up joining the army, by the way. He *did* go on tour in Europe as the fill-in guitarist for the female hardcore band Va'adat Kishut though. The interviews were great because Gutzy is pretty aware of everything that goes on in the scene, so he was able to update me on almost every band and person from the movie. This will be a handy overview for the DVD. After the interview, we went on a mad hunt all over Tel Aviv for a dish of hummus. The first two places we went to were closed for Shabbat--oh yeah, another reminder of the whole "Jewish country" thing (See previous post)--and we finally found some that was good enough to leave me farting for the rest of the night. (Sorry, mom!)
(Me, Gutzy and Hummus)
The last interview I did before leaving was another combo of people from different bands. This seemed really appropriate because it's a reminder of what a small scene it is and that, despite different political leanings, most people are essentially friends with each other. This time it was Ron from Soon In Here (the guy who says that the scene has grown a lot since his band has been together) and Yaniv from Nikmat Olalim (the young political hardcore band). Once again I was reminded of what an all-around nice group of people the Israeli punks are, no matter where they fall in the wide spectrum of music styles and political beliefs. Soon in Here recently broke up, but both Soon in Here and Nikmat Olalim had toured Europe since we shot the original footage. I think that going abroad changed or enhanced both of their perspectives on Israel. Both of the guys are originally from Kfar Saba (20 mins. North of Tel Aviv) and are now working on setting up a D.I.Y. venue/youth center in their hometown. Between Giora's venue in south Tel Aviv, HaPussy's Pitch Studios, the Tel Aviv squat protests, and talk of this Kfar Saba venue, it was exciting to see how active the Israeli scene has become in creating its own system of venues and spaces since we originally shot the film.
My trip closed appropriately with a show at the Patiphone, where I got to see Gutzy and Nadav's new hardcore band, Hikokiri, and some of the set of a band called "Brutal Polka." I also got to say goodbye to my new friend Michi, along with Gutzy, Becker, Corey, Nadav, Ron, Yaniv, and of course Dennis. A nice roundup of the past few days of activity. I then went off to spend a last couple of precious hours with the Amazing Avital, to whom I owe this entire project. I couldn't have done it without you, girl.
I don't know if anyone from the bands are going to read this blog, but if so I must say a HUGE THANKS to all of you for your kindness and generosity and for being SO FUCKING COOL and I hope that even if you don't completely understand my intentions right now, you will one day be as proud to have been a part of Jericho's Echo as I am to have made it. TODAH RABAH to all of you MOTEKS!!›