Listen in as film maker Danae talks about her new film P.S. Jerusalem, racism, exploitation, why it’s so difficult to film in Jerusalem and how she has become increasingly uncomfortable pointing the camera at other people.
Returning to her hometown of Jerusalem with her young family after several years abroad, documentarian Danae Elon offers an intimate, ground’s-eye view of one of the most fiercely contested cities in the world.
In 2010, filmmaker Danae Elon was living in New York City and pregnant with her third child when she felt a powerful urge to move back to her hometown of Jerusalem. Her husband Philip is a French-Algerian Jew who had never lived in Israel, but was game to try it. In P.S. Jerusalem, Elon chronicles her family’s three-year sojourn, during which time they bore witness to much of what makes the city such a fiercely debated territory.
Even though Jerusalem is frequently in the headlines, Elon brings a fresh perspective as she observes the city physically transform as the Israeli government increases the evictions of Arabs and the expansion of Jewish settlements. Meanwhile, she also documents Philip’s struggle to fit in and the experiences of her young sons as they confront the challenges of mixing between Jews and Arabs. As the years pass, we see how the city’s tensions become internalized within the family.
A looming presence in the film is Danae’s father, the noted journalist and author Amos Elon. An outspoken critic of Israel, Amos and his wife Beth had raised Danae in Jerusalem in an atmosphere of activism and engagement. Before his death in 2009, Amos had grown so disappointed with his adopted country that he and Beth relocated to Tuscany.
In the film, Danae includes conversations with him in which he shares his pessimistic analysis and warns her not to move back.
P.S. Jerusalem is a film about navigating the divisions between the individual and the family, the past and the present, and hope and reality. There are no easy answers.
Danae Elon is an award-winning documentary producer, director and cinematographer. She graduated from NYU Tisch school with honors in 1995, where she won the National Kodak Award for Cinematography.
In 2009 she was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in film. Twice she has been awarded a grant from the Sundance Institute in Lost Angeles.
Her first feature documentary film Never Again Forever, released in 1996, showcased in more than 25 international film festivals and received a Golden Spire award from the San Francisco International film festival as well as an achievement award from the Chicago International Film festival.
Soon after she returned to Jerusalem, her hometown to complete two additional films Wild Mint, which she directed and produced, and Cut which she photographed and co-produced with Director/Producer Nizar Hassan. For this film she was awarded a grant from theRothschild foundation. In addition she won an Award from the 2000 Jerusalem festival for Cinematography.
In 2001 Danae returned to the US and began work on her film Another Road Home which she received a Sundance grant in 2003 and went on to be praised as one of the most honest and sensitive films ever made about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film premiered at the 2004 Tribeca film festival and showcased in over 20 international film festivals, including IDFA, LAFF, Jerusalem film festival, Hot Docs, Encounters South Africa, Gotenburg, and many more. Another Road Home was theatrically released it 2005 and was shown in over fifteen US cities. It was broadcast on the Sundance channel, BBC, Finnish, Belgian, New Zealand, Swedish, and on both Al Jazeera and Israeli television. She won two awards for Another Road Home a Bronze Medal from the Warsaw International Film Festival, and best documentary from Tursak Film Festival in Istanbul.
Partly Private is her second feature documentary, it is a witty documentary about the rite of circumcision. A Canadian production broadcast on Channel 8 Israel, Arte France, TV Ontario, Canal Vie, TV2 Denmark. Partly Private premiered in the 2009 Tribeca film festival where it won the Best New York Documentary award. In 2012 it was screened at the Jewish Motifs festival in Warsaw Poland and received the special award of the Jewish community for best representation of contemporary Jewish and Israeli Culture.
Currently Danae is working two feature films; One for Channel 8 is a personal documentary about Jerusalem seen from the perspective of a family who moves back after a 20 year absence. The second is a film about The Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church commissioned by IBA channel 1 and supported by the New Foundation for Film and TV.
In addition to her work as Director and Producer Danae graduated from NYU with an excellence in cinematography and proceeded to win numerous awards for her work as cinematographer. In this capacity she has worked for the Discovery Espanol Channel in Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, and Nicaragua as well as in Palestine and Israel. She has also worked as an educator for a community based organization Community Access, which assists people with psychiatric disabilities in making the transition from shelters and institutions to independent living.
In recent years Danae has been the curator of the Documentary competition at Cinema South a film festival held annually in the town of Sderot and hailed as one of the most interesting festivals in the region. She has been a lecturer at the Sapir School for film in TV on Cinematography and Documentary film.