April’s Online Short, Lost Paradise, from co-directors Alice Stephens and Naama Noach, is a visual meditation on the decay of Israel’s famous Dead Sea after years of human negligence. A sad, yet eye-opening example of how years of turning a blind eye can firmly impact a unique and natural landscape. The Dead Sea is a place of surreal and understated beauty. In stark contrast however, the factories that harbor salt and the hotel tourist hot spots are continuing to declare what is left of the sea as viable and alive. The film attempts to represent the state of the Dead Sea purely through a poetic form of documentary.
Dirs. Alice Stephens, Naama Noach, Israel, 2017, 5 min, English.
Q&A with director Alice Stephens
What inspired you to make this film?
I was inspired by the unique beauty of the Dead Sea and was drawn to the imagery of a natural landscape slowly deteriorating in front of your eyes. I went to Israel with a desire to make a film and The Dead Sea was visually enticing and a story that I felt needed to be told.
What was your greatest challenge during the filmmaking process?
The greatest challenge I found was actually the editing process. Having shot the film in Israel, editing in Australia was difficult because you have to work with the material you have and there was really no way of going back to get more footage. In the end it was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to really pull the footage apart and come to a conclusion as to how I really wanted to tell this story.
Any thoughts you’d like to share about screening this film in a Jewish context?
I think it is important for Jewish and non-Jewish people to see this film as this kind of ignorance to nature is not just happening to the Dead Sea. I also think its important to show visually what has happened to the surrounding land and businesses than to just be told. I think it can have a big impact to see something that you never knew was happening and to hear about it in your own Country could have an even bigger impact.
What film/media has inspired you lately?
What do you do when you’re not filmmaking?
I love taking stills and especially 35mm film photography. I love to take it with me when I am out and about. There is something about only having 36 photos, which forces you to really savor and consider each frame. It also helps me discover my style and experiment as a cinematographer.
Lastly, gefilte fish: delicious, or disgusting?
As a gentile myself I am unsure to what this is. However, after a quick Google I have come to the realization I have been served this a couple of times by a Jewish friend of mine. I think the only word I have for it, is horrific.