“Why did he do it? “ People keep asking us this question over and over again, now, that we are back from Jenin. Now, after getting to know his family. Now, after asking his father, his brother the same question.
Why does a young man leave the house in the morning, saying Good-bye to his parents like on every other day? Saying he won’t be late coming home from work and only a few hours later detonates an explosive belt hidden under his shirt? Eight years after the attack we are trying to understand what seems unimaginable.
It is our first trip to the West Banks and Israel. Everything is new, everything is different. We only know about the conflict what is said on the news – Near East so far away. And suddenly we are right there. Two weeks after completing our studies, after graduation.
We are still students when our documentary film university lecturer Marcus Vetter asks us at the end of a class what we would like to do after graduation. It doesn’t even come to our minds then to mention making a documentary as first time film directors. One and a half years later and Marcus is our producer. We start the shoot with the vision that it will work out as long as you believe in the idea.
We are asking Zakaria Tobassi, the perpetrator’s father, if the family suspected something when we met him for the second time. Two young, female filmmakers, inexperienced – not only in terms of film making but also in regard to the Arabic culture. The father suggests friendly that we should be wearing headscarves if we wanted to go to heaven. We nod and ask about the Why, the time before and after the attack, if the father noticed any changes in his son. He didn’t notice anything is the reply of the religious man.
A few days later our Palestinian producer Fakhri Hamad takes us aside. He is aggravated: “Did you really ask him if he knew about it? Do you even understand what this might mean for the whole family? Which consequences this could have if the father had known something? These are the kind of questions that arouse distrust. After all, you could be from the Mossad. “
After that, we don’t shoot for a long time. We just can’t get close to the family. So we keep visiting them over and over again. Just because and without the camera. Quite often even without an interpreter. The whole thing is a slow process and luckily, we can take advantage of a rare luxury in the film making business: working without time pressure. Only because of this are we able to stay calm even in difficult situations, this allows us to improvise and adjust to the family and their own rhythm. Slowly, we are winning their trust and they ours. And then, finally, we are allowed again to bring the camera along. “How did you do that?” an Israeli asks us incredulously. “How did you get them to talk? “ We didn’t get them to talk. They decided to talk for themselves, because they trusted us.
When father Tobassi listens to his heart of hearts, he simply knows that these two women are not from the Israeli secret service. Maybe he believes us to be a little naive, but definitely not dangerous.
When we look deep inside ourselves, we just know that he really didn’t know anything about his son’s plans. Some may believe us to be a little naive because of that.
At one point or another we stopped pondering this question. We don’t want having to explain why Shadi killed himself and 15 other people with him. The film is supposed to give an insight into the emotional world of the bereaved. We want to tell about what comes after, after death, after silence, after the shock. What happened to the relatives and what did the dead leave behind for them.
Dov, the Israeli architect and peace activist, who was fatally injured in the back of his head by a splinter, left an idea behind: There can be no peace as long as the enemies don’t talk with each other.
Eight years after the attack the widow Yael dares to visit Shadi’s family in Jenin. Trusting us probably helped in the matter. And the Tobassi family is brave enough to invite her into their living room in Jenin.
We want to tell the story about the cautious reapprochement of both sides.