Ghost Hunting: Wounds that won’t heal
by Cristóbal Soage
- Palestinian director Raed Andoni uses his own personal experiences in this documentary, a direct socio-political account of the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The reasons to love film are infinite. Its ability to transform the darkest and most traumatic experiences into edifying and inspiring works of art is one of them. This is the case with Ghost Hunting [+see also:
film profile], a hybrid between documentary, fiction and experimentation that was screened at the Transilvania International Film Festival after being awarded Best Documentary at the Berlinale. It is a film with which its director, Palestinian Raed Andoni, tries to exorcise the demons that have haunted him since his imprisonment in a detention centre in Israel.
The director’s aim was to use professional actors to recreate his experiences during his months of isolation, in which he was subjected to all kinds of torture. As viewers, we see him recreate the prison in what looks like a garage or hangar. We also see his casting process, which is characterised by one criterion that is essential for the development of the film: the men who are willing to embark on this risky adventure must have personally been through the ordeal of being held in an Israeli detention centre.
When everything gets going we see the torture, recreated with such rawness that it is impossible to know to what extent these men are simply playing a role. What we see is so painful, and hits us in such a targeted way, that we could say we’re watching a state of trance: the ghosts of the past take form, and those who were once the victims of the most unjustified brutality fight with all their might to restore the dignity that was ripped from them.
The vision of Ghost Hunting forces the viewer to face a terrible and cruel reality head on and without any filters, one in which the word humanity loses all meaning. Men become beasts whose only raison d’être is survival. The simulation of the horror is so palpable that at times we wonder where the border between fiction and reality really is. Is the psychological state of mind of the victims of torture years after being subjected to it perhaps just as terrible as the fact that it took place to begin with? Are the memories that torment these people perhaps a sort of depraved ghost that inevitably invades their daily lives? The questions that the film slips into the mind of the viewer are complex, as is the emotional framework that Andoni constructs (or reconstructs) in this fantastic piece.
All this insanity is interspersed with beautiful animated sequences which give sombre lyricism to a film that really gets into our heads, staying there and continuing to play out in our minds for a long time.
Ghost Hunting is a co-production between Palestine, France (Rouge International, Les Films de Zayna), Switzerland (Akka Films) and Qatar. UDI - Urban Distribution International is handling international sales of the film.
(Translated from Spanish)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.