A scene from “Babies” at Har-Gilo, with the lights of Jerusalem in the distance.

A scene from “Babies” at Har-Gilo, with the lights of Jerusalem in the distance.

“Have you considered not filming your movie in Israel?”

My thesis advisor looked up from my proposal, one of his eyebrows arched high. I knew instantly what he was getting at: “It’s too dangerous there; the production costs too high; the political situation too combustible.”

Was he right?

Set in Jerusalem, my film, “Babies,” tells the story of a young mother being pushed away from her home and her child. The film explores Jewish identity within the cultural context of “home.” It examines the meaning and feelings that result from dislocation, alienation, and rootlessness. These themes resonate throughout the history of the Jewish people: the Exodus, Babylonian captivity, Alhambra Decree, the Holocaust. There is no better place than Israel to tell the story of one’s yearning for her homeland.

Rather than avoiding the complexities of life in Israel, I believe it is vitally important to reveal them, free of the right or left ideological baggage proliferated in the media. As a trained visual anthropologist, I bring to my fictional work the same rigorous methods that allow anthropologists to create wholly realized stories using the voices of research subjects.

As I begin this challenging undertaking, I am fortunate to be working with the amazingly talented cinematographer Ilya Marcus, whose last short (“Ten Buildings Away”) was screened in the Cinéfoundation shorts competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Also, providing mentorship, guidance, and support is the award-winningIsraeli filmmaker Avishai Sivan.

Making a movie about Jewish identity is not a task for one person; it requires arvot hadadit (communal responsibility). I hope by now you agree this is a story that needs to be told in Israel, and that you’ll keep following it as it grows its wings.

If you are interested in our project, and want to learn more, go to igg.me/at/babiesthefilm.

Yuval Shapira is in the Media Art graduate program at Emerson College. He can be reached at uvshapira@gmail.com.

The Jewish settlement of Har Gilo, which is the location for our final scenes

The Jewish settlement of Har Gilo, which is the location for our final scenes