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Beth Kruvant’s timely documentary Levinsky Park will Premiere at the 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 11!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 06/08/2017

Beth Kruvant’s timely documentary Levinsky Park will Premiere at the 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 11!

Beth Kruvant’s
timely documentary Levinsky Park will Premiere at the 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 11!

Here is my interview with Levinsky Park Director Beth Kruvant:

Nigrin:  Your compelling feature documentary film focuses on the Levinsky Park neighborhood of Tel Aviv, Israel, where a community of sub-Saharan African refugees seeking freedom in a strange new country has found itself in a vexing clash between two cultures. Please tell us more about your film and why you decided to make it.

Kruvant: My daughter was working at a refugee health clinic while studying for a masters in crisis and trauma at Tel Aviv University in 2012.  I visited her there and spoke with some of the refugees.  She was able to assist me in getting access to many refugee stories. I slowly accumulated footage of different refugees.  I wanted to learn about their plight and experiences in coming to Israel and living in Israel.  I filmed for about 2 weeks once a year from 2012 to 2016. I realized I had a lot of stories and that it would be a challenge to create a coherent film from what I filmed.  The refugee situation in Israel is very complex and it was difficult to distill it into a coherent film.  I hope the viewer could understand the situation as I had come to understand it myself.   I really wasn't sure if anyone would be interested in the situation.  As time went by, the refugee crisis grew globally and the universal themes from the film speak to everyone.

I am a granddaughter of immigrants and feel a direct connection to the stories of immigrants.  Israel is a country of immigrants.  It is in a unique situation where it should be super sensitive to immigrants fleeing from danger.  I was curious to see how this played out amongst a variety of people from different backgrounds.



 
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Nigrin:  Your film is quite timely given the current climate in the United States. Do you see parallels in the way in the way refugees are being treated in Israel?

Kruvant: Being a lawyer as well as a filmmaker, I responded to the new administration by volunteering at Newark International Airport with other lawyers to be present, ready to assist any traveler being detained or deported.  I have encountered Syrian nationals with permanent U.S. residence status questioned intensely.  Most student and work related visa holders were stopped from boarding to the U.S. from Europe.  We were told that some were given papers to sign to relinquish their visa.  Customs and Border Patrol are eager to send people to detention centers reluctant to let detainees know that lawyers are waiting outside to help.  Like the detention center in Levinsky Park, hundreds are in detention centers around the United States.  It is as if the undocumented in the U.S. are all living in Levinsky Park now.

Nigrin:  So many of us here in the USA are the children of immigrants and refugees. Why do you think there is such resentment and hostility towards people who are just trying to find better lives. 

Kruvant: I think the resentment comes from fear that their jobs are being taken from them and that they are adding to the burden of health, education and welfare.  In Levinsky Park we learn that over a span of one year the population doubled but there was no corresponding increase in infrastructure.

Nigrin:  Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you can rely to our readers?

Kruvant:  It is heartbreaking to see woman who have been raped by smugglers.  It is distressful to see hatred and animosity.  It is a very difficult situation when you see Israelis who are struggling to make ends meet and then see new needy refugees impinge on their livelihood.  The refugee conflict is highlighted in Israel, but is echoed all over the world. I just wanted to obtain a fuller understanding of what it means to be “the other” and hope the audience does as well.

Here is a video Interview I did with Beth Kruvant, Director of Lewinsky for EBTV: 

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Levinsky Park will be followed by two excellent short films. Here is more info on this screening:



 
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Beth Kruvant’s timely documentary Levinsky Park will Premiere at the 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 11!

Passaic – Douglas Underdahl (Millburn, New Jersey)
 The son of an investigative journalist stumbles upon his late father’s last unsolved case – a murder that tore apart the gritty town of Passaic, NJ – and he needs to decide if he will dig back into the decades-old crime, to discover the truth behind the tragedy, in order to better understand his father and, ultimately, himself. Based on a true story. 2017; 15 min. Special Guest Appearance by Director Douglas Underdahl  and Writer/Producer Michael Klausner!

Beth Kruvant’s timely documentary Levinsky Park will Premiere at the 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 11!

Generations of Artists: Roosevelt, NJ – Ilene Dube (Princeton, New Jersey)
 Ever since mural painter Ben Shahn was invited by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in the 1930s to create a mural in Jersey Homesteads, this experimental rural farming community, now known as Roosevelt, New Jersey, has become a haven for potters, painters, musicians, and artists.  A loving portrait of a time, a town, and a creative New Jersey community.  2017; 20 min. Special Guest Appearance by Director Ilene Dube!

Levinsky Park – Beth Kruvant (South Orange, New Jersey)  No country has been more historically indebted to refugees than Israel. Yet, in the Levinsky Park neighborhood of Tel Aviv, a community of sub-Saharan African refugees seeking freedom in a strange new country has found itself in a vexing clash between two cultures. The film provocatively ventures into the lives of the denizens of Levinsky Park, incisively capturing the mixed feelings of resentment, apprehension, and acceptance on the part of the established Jewish community along with the exhilaration and anxiety felt by the newest residents. A fascinating and nuanced portrait of one of the defining global issues of our time: refugee migration. In English and Hebrew, subtitled. 2016; 66 min. Special Guest Appearance by Director Beth Kruvant!

Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.


Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University


71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends


Information: (848) 932-8482;
www.njfilmfest.com

Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick will be providing free food prior to all New Jersey Film Festival Screenings!

 

 




Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.



 
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