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Documentary The First Sea/Das erste Meer

At the Zurich Film Festival a few months ago, Austrian screenwriter and film director, Clara Trischler, presented the world Première of her new documentary “The First Sea”/”Das erste Meer”.

“The First Sea” is for people who are for equality of human rights, for peace and have an interest in the Middle East. In sixty minutes, Clara with her cameraman, Jakob Fuhr, retells the story of a group of Palestinian children going to visit the sea for the first time. Both interviewed children like Wafaa and their parents and asked them what they expect from their trip to the sea. The children live in the West Bank and have never been to the beach. The film shows how some Palestinian families feel about the Israelis, who came to occupy their country.

Das erste Meer copyright ZFF

Picture of the film Das erste Meer – copyright ZFF

Around 2009/2010 Trischler had heard about these trips to the beach from a friend, who was a political activist in Israel. Thanks to peace activists such trips have been organized for the last 7 to 8 years and they happen every summer before the Ramadan.

In 2009 after some time studying in Denmark and then in Israel at a Holocaust research center, Trischler went back to her home country to study at the Film Academy of Vienna. There she met Jakob Fuhr, who worked with her on “Das erste Meer”.

Clara Trischler is being interviewed after Das erste Meer Premiere in Zurich - credit photo Agnieszka Obuchowicz

Clara Trischler is being interviewed after Das erste Meer Premiere in Zurich – credit photo Agnieszka Obuchowicz

While it is not Trischler’s first film it is her first full length documentary film. Before she made short documentaries like “Sinai” (about broken relationships) and “Seashells and Milk” (first part of Das erste Meer and shown at the Jewish festival in Vienna).

When I met both Clara Trischler and Jakob Fuhr at the Meet & Greet the directors at the Zurich film tent, I found out more about how the film was made.

Jakob Fuhr credit photo Brigid Schluneger

Jakob Fuhr credit photo Brigid Schluneger

The documentary film was shot in the summer of 2011, but it took 1 year and an half to edit, explained Jakob. “But what it is important for us now is that people see the film,” he continued. At the beginning they had no financing and had to pay their trip to the country. They slept in various Palestinian homes and also in Tel Aviv until the project was finished. The first village they visited did not want to participate in the documentary so they moved to another one. Neither Trischler or Fuhr spoke Arabic. They had a translator with them. Nevertheless Fuhr said that it was easy to communicate with the children. When the film was more solid then they became financing from an editing and sound agency and support from the city of Vienna.

“But how did the children feel on their way back from the beach?,” I asked. Trischler said it was hard for them to know what they told their parents as the children were so excited and tired. She thinks it would be nice to find out more in 2 or 3 years after they had time to digest that event.

Director of Das Erste Meer, Clara Trischler with friend on the green carpet of ZFF for the closing ceremony - copyright Véronique Gray

Director of Das Erste Meer, Clara Trischler with friend on the green carpet of ZFF for the closing ceremony – copyright Véronique Gray

Before going back to Buenos Aires, where Trischler is now studying, she came to the awards ceremony at the Zurich Opera house. Fuhr had already flown back to Bolivia where he is now working on a new documentary.

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