Koudelka: Shooting Holy Land, the debut documentary film of Israeli-born photographer Gilad Baram, offers a unique and intimate look into the creative process of world-renowned Czech photographer Josef Koudelka.
Growing up behind the Iron Curtain Koudelka always wanted to know “what was on the other side”. Forty years after capturing the iconic images of the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968, the Magnum Agency photographer arrives in Israel and Palestine following an invitation to participate in the group project, This Place, initiated by photographer Frédéric Brenner. On first seeing the nine-meter-high wall built by Israel in the West Bank, Koudelka is deeply shaken and embarks on a four-year project in the region which will confront him once again with the harsh reality of conflict.
Director Gilad Baram, Koudelka’s assistant at the time, follows him on his journey through the Holy Land from one enigmatic and visually spectacular location to another. In each location – soon to become a new “Koudelka photo” – a new scene unfolds, gradually introducing us to Koudelka’s method of working, his perception of the world and the people he encounters.
A fascinating dialogue emerges between Baram’s cinematography and Koudelka’s still photographs, as Baram places the photographer in his own breathtaking compositions. Their austere images of a landscape carved up by concrete walls and barbed wire reveal the tragic absurdity of the infamous conflict.
Koudelka: Shooting Holy Land premiered last October as the opening film of Ji.Hlava International Documentary Film Festival and was recently screened at the prestigious Human Rights Film Festival, One World in Prague. It will continue its world festival tour in DOKfest Munich Film Festival and Docaviv Film Festival in Tel Aviv, both taking place in May 2016.