by Tom Pessah
Conversations across political worldviews are difficult. If we feel someone sees what is most fundamental to us entirely differently, how can we engage them respectfully? Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s groundbreaking new documentary “The Viewing Booth” provides us with a deeper look into the contradictory ways people interpret images of human rights abuses, and offers insights into how we might bridge those divides.
Alexandrowicz, an Israeli filmmaker who previously made “The Law in These Parts,” set up a lab at the American university where he works and invited student volunteers to watch short films depicting the occupation — some filmed by Palestinians for Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, and others made by settlers or soldiers. The lab includes cameras that film the students as they watch the films, verbalizing their reactions and discussing them with the filmmaker.
“The Viewing Booth” focuses on one such student, Maya Levy, an American Jew born to Israeli parents.