9 Star Hotel
Photos and Video
Camping in the hills to avoid detection. Constantly on the alert for the border patrol. Making hurried dashes across isolated stretches of highway so they can try to blend unnoticed into the rugged landscape on the other side. Mexicans or Central Americans trying to slip across one of America's southern borders? No these are young Palestinians, living on the land they and their ancestors were born on. But that land now lies in the State of Israel, where a 28-foot high Separation Fence is still under construction as a way of keeping out suicide bombers. And so these Palestinians are able to eke out a livelihood solely by managing to get jobs with contractors who pay them to help build the new Israeli town of Modi'in, where apartment buildings are springing up thanks to their tireless labor. Ido Haar, a young Israeli filmmaker, gained their trust and was allowed to film them in the shanty town they've constructed for themselves in the nearby hills, to which they retreat each night. Leading a completely marginalized existence in order to support their distant families, their improvised huts illuminated only by battery-powered electricity, living in constant fear of arrest, these men's community is nonetheless a vibrant one, and the film does a great job of conveying their humanity as they laugh, talk, and help one another. Their own "hotel" couldn't even garner a single star - but it's one that would shine brightly. Around them, is mostly darkness. A Koch Lorber Release.
Director's Statement Collapse
I grew up in a village on the edge of a pine forest, half way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. On my way home, I often saw men running frantically across the highway. The fear in their eyes haunted me and I wanted to find out where they are running to, and whom they are running from. I discovered that the forest, my own backyard, serves as a hideout for thousands of Palestinians looking for work in Israel. I found a secret camp on the other side of the forest, but didnt find any people. Whenever I came around, they would flee. My persistence made them curious, and eventually they stayed put. Since then, I have been documenting a vibrant community of young men and the impossibly hard and strangely wonderful lives they live. My camera follows two best friends. Muhammad is the charismatic leader, the one who always has the answers. Ahmad is the childish one, the boy who wants someone to tell him what to do. I spend nights and days with them, experiencing, as much as an outsider can, a life of fear, uncertainty, madness, and grace; trying to understand how despite their circumstances, which to me seem un-inhabitable in the open, in the dark, exploited, away from home and family, they live only to survive.
Film Information Collapse
[NINES] | 2006 | 78 | Documentary Feature
Directed by: Ido Haar
Foreign Title: (Malon 9 Kochavim)
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About the Director(s)Collapse
IDO HAAR graduated in 2002 from The Sam Spiegel School For Film & Television in Jerusalem. His first documentary, Melting Siberia, was theatrically released in Israel and was highly praised by critics. His second documentary feature, 9 Star Hotel, also theatrically released to acclaim in Israel, is about to be released in the United States and other countries worldwide.