Written and directed by a pair of female filmmakers, Dalia Hager and Vidi Bilu’s Close To Home is the first-ever Israeli film to focus on the experiences of women in the country’s armed services. The rebellious Smadar (Smadar Sayar) and the conscientious Mirit (Neama Schendar) are two cute 18-year-olds serving their compulsory two-year term in the military. Patrolling the streets of Jerusalem, they are instructed to check the identity cards of Palestinians they encounter. But as Smadar asks her commander Dubek (Irit Suki), “How do I know who is an Arab?”
It’s focus is human rather than political. The two main characters have little to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: understandably their concerns are men, clothes, haircuts and family. Shot on handheld DV cameras, this is an episodic, modest effort, yet it successfully provides a perceptive snapshot of everyday life in a bitterly divided city.