Danae Elon did go home again, to a Jerusalem she knew deeply and barely recognized. Her thoughtful documentary about relocating to Israel with partner Philip Touitou and their young sons offers an intimate look at a family’s adjustment as well as personal observations of the deep-seated conflicts between the Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants of this ancient city. The death of the filmmaker’s father, revered author, journalist, and commentator Amos Elon, prompted the return. Danae subscribes to his liberal views, but not his pessimism about Israel’s future – her move represents a final act of rebellion.
Born in Vienna, Amos was a child of World War II who viewed the new Jewish state as a utopian refuge. He wrote about the country’s conservative shift in The Israelis: Founders and Sons and other work, and their family dinner conversation always revolved around politics. Danae’s connection is innate, not intellectual, and she wants to feel the sense of belonging to her birthplace after decades of living in the United States.
She didn’t expect to experience a similar crack in idealism. Her sons attend a progressive, bilingual (Hebrew and Arabic) school that teaches parallel histories of acquisition and loss, which she’s disheartened to see continue with Jewish settlements displacing Palestinian landowners. Philip, born in Algeria and raised in France, is distressed by the racism that infects everyday interactions. P.S. Jerusalem is as modest as a home movie but profoundly captures the conflict between individual conscience and national identity.
Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on March 17, 2017 by International Film Option
First published in The Village Voice, 2017.