Zohar Kfir wants to show the world the true face of Palestine.
How do you accomplish such a monumental task? If you’re Kfir, a filmmaker and media artist based in Montréal, you gather video footage shot by dozens of regular Palestinian citizens and merge that footage into a sprawling online documentary.
The result of Kfir’s experiment is Points of View, an immersive online experience depicting the everyday lives of Palestinians as they navigate Israeli occupation. The hope of the project: To present a view of Palestine captured by Palestinians and allow viewers to draw their own conclusions about the conflict.
In 2007, B’Tselem, an independent Israeli organization focused on documenting human rights violations in the occupied territories, began distributing video cameras to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.
Points of View compiles that footage into a website, allowing users to navigate videos using digital “trails” etched across a map of Israel/Palestine. The combination of moving video and rich navigation gives users a sense of the lives of those involved in the conflict, and where their stories exist in relation to one another.
More importantly, the trails allow users to draw their own connections, creating non-linear narratives that resist the fixed conclusions that are often a part of documentary filmmaking.
Points of View was developed as an open source project. According to Kfir’s Q&A with i-Docs, she wants other media groups and activists to add to the site and modify its code to fit their own needs. She hopes the project will become something of an ever-changing time capsule, providing an inside look into life under the Israeli occupation over time.
“Moving onwards the platform was designed to sustain hundreds of videos,” Kfir said in the Q&A. “So in five or 10 years I hope to possibly see a map populated with dozens of videos, trails and tags, turning the project into a visual and time-based evolving archive that can both be an interactive web doc as well as a platform for research and teaching.”