ISRAEL — The first day of cinema studies, everything is new and my anxiety level is through the roof. Here we are, about 30 people coming from different backgrounds and ages; from the 20 year old guy from Israel’s most high class city to the almost 40 years lady that dedicated her life to the fight for equal rights between Ashkenazim (People from east and central Europe) and Mizrahim (people from Spain and Africa).
Among those new faces there was an odd looking fella that sat silently in the corner. When it was his turn he had to speak it was in English, but it was a strange English, and it was clear that he was not a native speaker.
Though he looked like a usual American dude with the long Baggy pants and the Baseball cap, he said that he was born in the old city of Jerusalem and studied once to become a priest, but now, he was a communist.
I was interested in getting to know more about him. As young filmmakers we are taught to be curious and look for stories everywhere, and just in here, in this classroom, I’ve found mine: a 22-year old guy named Kindy
The first two-months he just sat quietly and didn’t do more than what was necessary. I remember him during the long hot days of work and production; it was strange to see him wearing long pants and socks when everyone else wanted to get naked to survive the heat! I was very curious to get to know him.
One day I saw something that looked like the scar of a gunshot on the back of his leg but I didn’t have the guts to ask.
The days passed and we all were bonding. Myself, Kindy, and a girl named Inbal were in the same “production” group and since me and Inbal had a good connection we wanted to acquaint ourselves more deeply with Kindy. One night we invited him over to watch a movie. As he arrived, we thought it would be a good a idea to lighten the vibe we sat for a smoke.
Slowly but surely everyone relaxed, and with the perfect setting I chose to introduce them both to Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Til’ Dawn”.
Without spoiling the film I’ll just tell you that what at first seems like a normal police hunt for two criminals shifts into an unusual adventure in Mexico.
After this night he started to open up.
I used to come visit him in his dorm and he used to bless me with filtered coffee, fresh vegetables and some oriental dishes his mom made. We sat, smoked a cigarette and talked about politics, God, music, and ideologies.
I learned that while carrying for his dying father, Kindy sat and read his old man’s library and became a Communist. In my eyes he was pure, a man that found his belief by himself without anyone telling him so.
I was a socialist myself, and as a devoted reader of history books and theories from the left side of things, talking about politics was our breakthrough, the point that brought us together, and he finally told me his true story and more shockingly, the story of his leg.
He is Palestinian, his mother was born and lived in the old city of Jerusalem and his father was from Ramallah. Kindy grew up as a Christian and went to priest school until one day an Israeli soldier shot him in the leg when walking with his father to church. The army declared the area as closed and it took more than eight long hours until the ambulance came. Since then he lost his faith in god.
Kindy traveled around to visit his family abroad and when he came back he studied Computer Engineering. There he learned for the first time that there are places and times when you don’t want to be so true about who you are.
As an Arab no one spoke to him, even when greeting his colleges he was snubbed. That was why he was afraid when we first met on the first day. It took him three years before I heard him speak Arabic and we were friends!
I loved to sat with him and talk about ideologies and cinema. He was a fountain of knowledge and opened up to me about the Arab Cinema and more. He wanted to put his ideas in his films, such fantastic ideas, such as moments of loneliness of a night guard at a parking lot, Christ coming back to work at Ikea, and even an erotic film about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
After a while he finally trusted me and told me his most private secret; how he slowly lost faith in god after what happen to him on his way to church and how sitting beside his dad and reading the “Communist Manifesto” changed his life. He started to see beyond the flat dichotomy of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Kindy fell in love with the idea that we are all equal, that people are born innocent and good, and that it is money and the false idea of power and “One Truth” that blinds them and makes them hurt each other.
The years went by and we quickly found ourselves graduating. We all grew up and now you could literally see the separate groups that were formed during those four years. Kindy changed his name, and now he was Kindy Trotsky… that remark can’t go without a short explanation.
Unlike Stalin or Lenin who believed in the necessity of one main communist revolution that would slowly change society through small groups, Trotsky’s defended the idea of a constant revolution. He hated the idea that one person could tell the others what to do. Like my friend Trotsky, they both felt on their bodies the cruelty of the opposite side
On that last year, Kindy invited Inbal and I to spent Christmas Eve at his Mom’s house, so we went. I picked up Inbal and Kindy and together we drove to Jerusalem, we parked just outside the old city walls and began walking.
I remember that I came with both a bit of a fear for entering and sleeping at the old Christian Quarter and with hate for that so called “Holy City”, in my own memories and experiences that city was nothing but bad news.
We walked quietly into the labyrinth following Kindy as he lead the way. At first we passed the Market and the shop owners closing their stores; we then passed a few fully armed police officers who looked at us with a suspicious look. As we were about to reach Kindy’s home we saw a group of young Palestinians playing soccer and throwing fire crackers while a group of Christian believers entered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The moment we entered I felt safe. I finally reached a place to call home around all those spooky dark streets. The house was a small, old house but it was full of Christmas decorations.
The brick walls kept the warmth of the fire stove in as we sat and drank tea with Kindy’s mom. she is such a strong and charming woman! I couldn’t stop listening to her stories about life and work and before I noticed it was time to eat. Kindy’s older sister arrived and we all sat around the table that was now blocking half of the free space in the house. But even so it was the happiest supper I’ve been to. Later that evening when we were all relaxing with our stomachs full, we learned that this was the first time that Trotsky’s family celebrated Christmas together since the father had passed.
The morning after was remarkably beautiful. We woke up super early and walked down the streets as the birds sang and the sun was rising. It was like Christ himself was walking with us and accompanying us. I had finally felt something towards Jerusalem, I felt the power of history there but even more the power of love and taking the other in, such as Inbal and I were taken into the Trotsky family on that Christmas Eve.
Years later, Kindy is living on the west coast of the United States working as a photographer, and even though I’m living on the other side of the ocean we still keep in touch. Today, on “May Day,” my comrade told me that on the last project he worked for, the NYC Fashion Week, he had hidden some secret messages in the form of Trotsky’s name.