When Bronx-based producer Jack Baxter set out to make a documentary in Israel in April 2003, he and director Joshua Faudem somewhat randomly turned their camera on Mike’s Place, an Anglo-American bar and live blues club located on a Tel Aviv beach. They figured this boozy international hangout with the friendly vibe--and the film that they would make there--would show a welcome side of Israel different from the all-too-familiar images of terrorism and conflict.
That is, until Mike’s Place was bombed in a suicide attack.
This grievous misfortune turns Blues by the Beach into much more than it was ever intended to be, quickly evolving into a vivid account of coping with daily life in the wake of violence. The immediacy of the story in the filmmakers’ own lives leaves them entirely unprepared for the task of grappling with or even asking larger social or political questions. Instead, they present us with a raw, honest and moving depiction of the emotional fallout--the collateral damage--of living in a war zone. Relationships shatter, characters are built or falter, lives change.
Blues by the Beach is a remarkable case study revealing how documentary filmmaking itself is an entirely contingent art. What begins as a random act of fate becomes, by the film’s end, its very reason for being.