A Palestinian, an Israeli and a Jordanian step into the Dead Sea... It sounds like the beginning of a joke your grandfather would tell. Instead, it's actually the premise of the upcoming film Dead Sea Guardians by Ido Glass and Yoav Kleinman. The filmmaking duo was recently at Docs Barcelona 2021, and their project was selected as one of four International projects to be screened at the Rough Cut Pitch on the 24th May.
Dead Sea Guardians is at once a documentary about the environment as much as an homage to "everyone and everything [who] has been brought to their knees" these days, as the film's website points out. During a time when Palestinians and Israelis have never seemed as distant from a collaborative solution to their countries' plight, the documentary -- which boasts the support of the Sundance Institute and the Skoll Foundation, as well as having Go2Films on board for their world sales -- shows us what can be achieved by joining forces.
The Dead Sea, in actuality a unique salt-lake, is a body of water that is shared by the Israelis, the Palestinians and the Jordanians and is the lowest place on Earth. Unfortunately, the Dead Sea is slowly but surely drying up, generating destruction in its wake. This is caused by overconsumption and poor water management, in part due to the ongoing conflict, troubled politics and destructive economics in the region. Munqeth from Jordan, Oded from Israel and Yusuf from Palestine are three determined men who decide to embark on a perilous swim across the salty waters -- a swim that has never been attempted before. They want to do it for their lands, their people, our planet. And what a journey this promises to be!
While we have only seen the trailer for this documentary, which you too can watch on Vimeo, we at MIME can't wait to watch the finished project. In the meanwhile, I asked Glass and Kleinman five quick questions to find out more.
What brought this story to you, how did you first hear about it?
Yoav was called to shoot a campaign video for the swim. That's how we got to know the group and its work and started documenting them from the first training phase about a year before the swim. We were drawn immediately to the story and characters. For us, the creators of the film, the Dead Sea has always been an inspiring place, as a kind of other planet to which one can escape the daily hassles and recharge through the adventurous nature. In our memories are engraved countless events related to this place. Today in front of our amazed eyes we see how sinkholes fields take the place of our childhood beaches. There are 6600 sinkholes as of today, and out of all the beaches only 2 remain active. In the face of the enormous forces that create this reality -- huge enterprises, a predatory economy, political considerations and climate change -- we feel helpless. Now maybe this is the last moment when something can be done to save the situation. As filmmakers we call for action to shake up the status quo.
We wanted to tell the story of the people who risk so much in order to save and give life to the Dead Sea.
Is cinema a way to bridge across cultures that are typically divided by politics?
Certainly, we believe that cinema and a good story are a great influential tool and can be inspiring on a universal level. Especially today, when at the media level the world is becoming a small global village and there is a demand for inspiring content and hope to create a better world. As filmmakers, we are absolutely proud to be spokespersons for the sea story and the attempts to save it.
You are supported by both the Sundance Institute and the Skoll Foundation. How is that important to you as filmmakers?
The support we have received by Sundance and the Skoll Foundation is beyond the financial support, and without them we could not have produced the film. They accompanied us at every level since the day we were contacted. Working with them for us is an ongoing process of growth and learning that we cherish. And above all, support by such bodies is the only way to bring the story to the level of a good film that will be distributed worldwide.
How was your pitching session at Docs Barcelona? I mean, what did you learn about your film from pitching it to others?
From the good reactions to the pitch we went through in Barcelona, we understood that the strength of our story is its universality. All over the world there are conflicts and complex politics that cause enormous environmental damage and directly, and sometimes very threateningly, affect our lives. This is a story of "simple people" who are not willing to stand on the sidelines and watch the collapse, but take real action while risking and sacrificing. In our case, they come from hostile countries and different cultures. Therefore, their story aroused great interest among the Pitch participants even though they are supposedly geographically distant and not necessarily related to the local conflict.
And what are your plans for the film?
The goal is to screen the film worldwide, addressing strategic entities such as environmental organizations, organizations dealing with the Middle East, as well as Embassies and Consulates around the world. We see the film as part of a major sea rescue campaign. Maybe its opening stimulus. Therefore, in addition to television screenings around the world, we would like to screen it among decision-makers and in educational screenings. We plan to submit the film to other broadcasters worldwide, as well as seek investors who are motivated by the film's message. In order, at first we will submit the film to international festivals in the fields of human rights and environment. In addition to the festivals, the film will be submitted to leading sales markets and will be sent to distributors in key territories.
Also, due to the film's educational character, it can generate important discussions in universities, high schools and groups of young leaders. We are planning to develop lesson plans with educators regarding the issues brought up in the film in order to increase its educational use. In the area of social awareness, the film will have a website and a Facebook page where we will work to promote the message and generate traffic.
After is screened in festivals around the world, the film will be distributed on digital platforms.
Dead Sea Guardians is sold by Go2Films.