Rock in the Red Zone

On the edge of the Negev Desert, Israel established the city of Sderot in the 1950s as a transit camp for immigrants from Arab countries, followed in the 1980s by Ethiopians. Working in factories, the immigrants lived far from the dreams of Jerusalem that had sparked their journeys. Ariel Sharon’s 2005 initiative to have Israel disengage from Gaza left nearby Sderot vulnerable to frequent close-range Qassam rocket bombings. Amidst casualties, maimed neighbors and crumbling buildings, Sderot’s youth found expression for both their anger and their hope in rock music. To western beats, they wrote lyrics—first in English, then in Hebrew—fusing Middle-Eastern melodies to create a unique sound. Bomb shelters became music clubs. For these musicians, Tel Aviv’s opportunity tugged constantly against Sderot’s authenticity. Filmmaker Laura Bialis arrived in Sderot in 2007 for a three-week stay to document the rock music scene. Two months later, she returned to live there. In the midst of near-constant visits to Sderot’s ubiquitous bomb shelters, Bialis found a community, love and a new family. She documents Sderot’s efforts to gain attention from Israel’s large cities, long before the summer of 2014, when longer range Qassam rockets reached them, too. Bialis’ music-infused film is an ode to both a musical movement and to its source.
Laura Bialis is an award‐winning documentary filmmaker. REFUSENIK, Laura’s critically acclaimed documentary about the 30-year international human rights campaign to free Soviet Jewry, was theatrically released in cities across the United States. VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE: Stories From Kosovo, premiered at Slamdance 2008, and was used by the European Union and NATO to train its staff working in the rebuildig of Kosovo. TAK FOR ALT, the story of Holocaust survivor turned Civil Rights activist Judy Meisel, aired on PBS and was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as “one of the outstanding films of 1999.” Laura holds a B.A. in History from Stanford University, and an M.A. in Production from the USC School of CinemaArts.
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