6 Open, 21 Closed AND 67 Ben Zvi Road | Chicago Reader

6 Open, 21 Closed AND 67 Ben Zvi Road

Two Israeli video documentaries. 6 Open, 21 Closed (1994) investigates Israel's “most difficult” prison just after a previous warden has reestablished order. Director Amit Goren maintains a genuine intimacy between his camera and subjects, giving a good sense of the cramped cells and the new warden's attempts at more humane treatment. The hopelessness of the prison (one inmate is a self-mutilator, and both a young drug addict and his father are incarcerated there) is counterbalanced at the end by a prisoner's parole and wedding. 67 Ben Zvi Road (1998) takes its title from the address of Israel's only institute of forensic medicine. Director Ran Tal includes the larger contexts for the victims' deaths: a suicide's poem is read in a voice-over; screws and nails are removed from someone killed by a terrorist's bomb. But Tal never stays with one case for long, and the blunt shots of corpses are awkward, even tasteless.

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