During the summer of 2011, Israel saw a major social protest which arose from a groundswell of young people trying to battle the high cost of living, especially the high cost of housing. At that time, Daphni Leef was a film student who was having trouble paying her rent, so she decided to give up her apartment and pitched a tent on Rothschild Blvd., inviting others to join her via facebook. Little did she know what she was getting into!
Slowly the movement grew, until it took on major proportions, which literally hundreds of thousands joined from all over Israel. The slogan of the movement was “The People want Social Justice” and Daphni Leef found herself at the center of this almost uncontrollable event.
The opening film at the DOCAVIV film festival, a few days ago, was the documentary film, Before My Feet Touch the Ground (לפני שהרגלים נוגעות בקרקע) directed by Daphni Leef. This compelling film is both about her and about the movement. It is a highly personal piece, as the filmmaker has decided to turn the camera on herself, so that we can see how one person is affected as she is trying to change the world. We see moments of great satisfaction and moments of despair, frustration, issues of ego, even some violence. Eventually the tent city was shut down by the authorities. This film provides an introspective look at herself, at what she went through, how she put herself on the line, how so many people were counting on her, and how it all just literally fizzled out.
One minister in the right-wing government (Miri Regev) called the protesters left-wing radicals, because they shouted so much and wouldn’t let her speak when she came to the tent camp. It was a funny moment, because there was no political side in this social protest movement, and also because it has become a regular slogan of the current government to blame everything on the left as if it is a dirty word!
Leef concludes the film with a mantra: “Open your eyes, close your eyes.” Open your eyes and see the inequality and the need for change. Close your eyes and hide from the burden, the responsibility. At the end, you are left dreaming – we must continue to dream – and we want to know where a charismatic woman such as Daphni Leef is going from here!
Before My Feet Touch the Ground is a documentary film, 87 minutes in length.