Ken Tov Beseder
Written, directed & produced by b.h. Yael, 2010
Video length 4:30 min
Tri-lingual (Hebrew, Arabic & English)
Premiered at the Toronto Palestine Film Festival
Ken, Tov, Beseder is a constructed short narrative piece, both allegorical and literal. A Palestinian man working in his garden in West Jerusalem is interrupted. The phone rings, and through the whole piece, as he walks out of his home, through Jerusalem streets, past the Damascus gate, out past settlements and the wall, he is speaking on the phone saying, “Ken, tov, beseder.” “Yes, good, alright.” At times acquiescent, at times frustrated, insistent and soothing, he negotiates through these three Hebrew words. Arriving at a garden store by the side of a road, he stops, looks at the flowers, and says, “Khallas.” (Arabic for “Enough”). Cutaways interrupt the man’s journey, images of maps from 1948, 1967, 1977, 1993 and 2002, corresponding to his location and to significant dates in the past 62 year history of Palestine/Israel. The man is walking, as it were, through time and space.
This piece premiered at the Toronto Palestine Film Festival. It works well in a large theatre context, but was originally conceived as an installation piece, in which people could see it a few times if needed. There are many associations or significances to this short narrative.
First, the piece starts in 1948 at the moment of the formation of the Israeli state and the Palestinian Nakbah and continues through the beginning of occupation, the beginning of the settlement project, the Oslo agreements and the start of the building of the walls and fences throughout the West Bank. It references the majestic homes that were taken over by Jewish settlers and immigrants in 1948 and the displacement of internal refugees. It also extends to the continued ‘peace’ deals and the question, ‘what negotiation is to be had?’ At the same time the video has a humourous quality, through repetition in the dominant language of communication, but also referencing working relations between Palestinians and Israelis.