NOAM CHOMSKY • SARA ROY • NORMAN FINKELSTEIN • ROBERT FISK
notes to eternity is a meditation on the Israel-Palestine conflict centering on the lives and ideas of four renowned critics of Israel: Noam Chomsky, Sara Roy, Norman Finkelstein and Robert Fisk. All four have strong personal connections to the issue that traverse and transcend historical and cultural lines.
Chomsky, Roy and Finkelstein are Jewish, while Roy and Finkelstein are also the children of Holocaust survivors. Robert Fisk is a foreign correspondent based in Lebanon who has spent over thirty-five years covering conflicts in the region.
The film takes shape around their reflections and is impressionistic, eschewing a more conventional documentary style for a series of ‘notes’. Here fragmentation becomes the lingua franca of memory and identity. World War I and II, the Holocaust, the Vietnam war, Civil Rights, East Timor, the conquest of the New World, and the “fundamental bias” of the Judeo-Christian heritage all enter the frame, evoking commonalities across conflict.
Noam Chomsky is central in the film. From a profoundly Jewish background, he is remarkable for his long-standing support for Palestinian justice. One of the world’s leading public intellectuals he is naturally at home in the “dissident margins.” His pro-Israel detractors variously label him a “self-hating Jew” and a “self-hating American”; on the other side, Palestinian activists vehemently oppose his position on the return of Palestinian refugees, and his criticisms of the movement for a one-state settlement. Now in his late eighties, his involvement with this issue has been lifelong.
Filmed over a number of years in the Middle East, the United States and the United Kingdom, the film becomes an exploration of the very act of representing injustice suffered by another, and a testament to the realities of dispossession that reverberate through all narratives of colonization and forced displacement.
Following preliminary screenings at the New Zealand International Film Festival, notes to eternity was completed in May 2016.
DCP | colour, B&W | 147 minutes
12 May 2016: limited theatrical release in New Zealand