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Koudelka: Shooting Holy Land

by Gilad Baram

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Czech Photographer Josef Koudelka grew up behind the Iron Curtain and always wanted to know "what was on the other side". Forty years after capturing the iconic images of the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968, the legendary Magnum photographer arrives in Israel and Palestine. On first seeing the nine-meter-high wall built by Israel in the West Bank, Koudelka is deeply shaken and embarks on a four-year project in the region which will confront him once again with the harsh reality of violence and conflict. Director Gilad Baram, Koudelka's assistant at the time, follows him on his journey through the Holy Land from one enigmatic and visually spectacular location to another. In each location - soon to become a new "Koudelka photo" - a new scene unfolds, gradually introducing us to Koudelka's method of working and his perception of the world he is documenting as well as the people he encounters. A fascinating dialogue emerges between Baram's cinematography and Koudelka's still photographs, as Baram places the photographer in his own breathtaking compositions. Their austere images of a landscape carved up by concrete walls and barbed wire reveal the tragic absurdity of the infamous conflict.

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