‘Garden of Eden’ reflects on park in Israel

Garden of Eden reflects on park in Israel

Trisha Chaudhary

Ran Tal directed The Garden of Eden, a movie centering on a popular park in Israel.
Ran Tal directed The Garden of Eden, a movie centering on a popular park in Israel. Photo by Trisha Chaudhary
The Garden of Eden is an honest movie. It doesn’t sugar coat. It doesn’t try to hide behind beautiful people. It just tells a story: the story of a popular water park in Israel.
Over 400,000 people visit this park called Gan HaShlosha, better known as the “Sakhne,” each year and The Garden of Eden explores the lives of a handful of those people. A survivor of an abusive relationship, a widow, a man tired of society, a liar, a man mourning deaths from years ago, and more. The film follows the activity in the park for a whole year,  from summer to fall to winter to spring and again back to summer.
Director Ran Tal is, himself, a native Israeli and said choosing Sakhne was almost natural. The screening of The Garden of Eden at The Globe at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the True/False Film Festival was it’s North American premiere. The film debuted at the Jerusalem Film Festival, then later showed at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam and will also take part in another film festival in Toronto later this year. This is Tal’s fifth documentary and he plans on continuing his career.
The Garden of Eden starts with the story of a regular visitor of Sakhne and introduces the park as a paradise of sorts, kind of like the Garden of Eden, hence the title. It introduces the park as a glorious place where people come to spend their holidays and have a good time. As the documentary develops and the backgrounds of some of these visitors are revealed, we begin to see the cracks that lie beneath the surface. It almost seems that many of the people that come to this ‘paradise,’ to escape, forget, or heal. The documentary exposes the strong presence that religion has in the park as well as roles that the darker underlying currents of racism and politics play in shaping the park. This movie honestly portrays the cultural and religious divides in Israel and how they manage to find their way into all aspects of society; even into utopias like Sakhne.
Not only does Tal delve into the depths of Israeli culture, he also experiments with unconventional combinations of sound and image. Rather than taking the conventional path of showing the clip of the person talking, instead on the screen their present lives at the park unfolded as their voices narrated their pasts. It was a clash of then and now. The voice-overs juxtaposed the images on screen but somehow worked together perfectly.

I would highly recommend seeing The Garden of Eden.
The next showings are Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Forrest Theatre and Sunday March 2 at 3:30 p.m. at Little Ragtag.
By Trisha Chaudhary
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