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An unprecedented, groundbreaking and voyeuristic look into military reserve life in Israel, this film was shot over a 5 year period in director and reserve soldier Yaniv Berman's life.
A soldier in the Israeli army reserves, Alpha Company, Berman had unparalleled access and filmed the soldiers as they went about their military service day and night. Crossing over to the Palestinian border the camera captured remarkably every movement of the soldiers from the frenetic night-time house arrests to the quiet moments of self reflection and despair.
Capturing the humiliation of both the Palestinians who are subject to the house arrests as well as the Israeli soldiers who had to carry them out, this documentary is the unique story of those who every 30 days in the year drop their normal lives and under the guise of the olive green uniform, perform the toughest, most unsettling tasks, in the heart of an urban Palestinian town.
The camera penetrates the steely barriers of the military barracks and gains fresh insight into the views of the soldiers who speak frankly and uncompromisingly on a range of issues including the occupation, the conflict and the Army. A sensitive exploration of the conflict done first hand from an individual caught in the midst of the action, Berman's film leaves us with no doubt that war leaves scars and victims on both sides of the camp.
On April 2002 I started my photographic journey with Alpha company.
The holiday just began and we all had our plans for the free days to come. But after a shocking terrorist attack on Passover eve, the government issued a special order to recruit the reserve units and send them into the Palestinians towns. The military operation was called “Defensive Shield”.
My regiment was sent into Bethlehem, where we fought for three weeks. When I had my first chance to take the camera with me I started filming our actions, and I kept doing it for 5 years. In 2007 I took all the stock of footage and made it into a documentary called “The Alpha Diaries”.
In Israel you have to go to the army when you become 18. It's three years of full, hard service, when you are asked to be a soldier beyond the border lines of Israel, in the midst of the Palestinian territories. After that, when you're 21, you return to your normal life, leaving it all behind, and you erase your memory of those three years. And then you begin your life. But not so fast...
In a country under constant threat, your duty doesn't end there; it continues with the mandatory Reserves Service. In March 2002 a war started, and I was drafted to the reserve forces. I was greeted into Alpha Company, where I found myself a soldier once again. We left our lives behind, riding on the dusty roads into the inferno. I took my camera with me, and it never left my side for 5 years. In one hand was the M-16, the LAU on my back, and with the other hand, holding on as if my life depended on it..