Visiting Ben Shemen
In the midst of the Covid pandemic, and employing WhatsApp calls, interviews, and Internet research, a New Zealand-based director seeks to better understand a significant experience in her mother’s past. In 1946, three young Jewish teenagers had met at the Ben Shemen school, in Palestine. Each had been traumatised by the Holocaust and World War II. These women, now in their late eighties – one of whom is the director’s mother – recount the ways in which Ben Shemen offered a healing and soul-nourishing refuge. Mixed-media and an animated sketchbook aesthetic, together with the collaging of fragments of music and sound, accompany their retrieval of memories, and the director’s efforts to understand their experiences.