Two young German fimmakers go to Palestine where, together with Manal, a Palestinian student from Jenin, they try to find out what really happened on March 31, 2002: Shadi Tobassi, a suicide bomber from Jenin, blew himself up in Haifa, killing 15 people. Among those killed was Dov Chernobroda, an Israeli architect, who for his entire life had tried to bring about a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine. Eight years later, his wife Yaël would like to visit the family of the suicide bomber in Jenin. Yaël often uses the word “terrorist” when she speaks of Shadi. And then – for the first time in her life – she is able to say his name: Shadi Tobassi: “Every person has a name,” she says. But she cannot imagine looking him straight in the eyes. Despite her turmoil of emotions she still wishes to visit Jenin in a peaceful attempt to break down the wall of silence. Her husband would have been the first to encourage her to do so.

Stefanie Bürger was born in 1982 in Aalen and studied Communication Sciences in Augsburg, followed by Media Studies at the University of Tübingen. AFTER THE SILENCE is her first feature length documentary.
Jule Ott was born in 1982 in Rheda-Wiedenbrück and studied German and Spanish Language and Literature in Constance and Córdoba, followed by Media Studies & Science at the University of Tübingen. AFTER THE SILENCE is her debut feature.
Manal Abdallah was born in Jerusalem in 1988 and studies Multimedia at the Arab American University in Jenin. During the second inifada, she emigrated with her family to Canada but returned to the West Bank at the age of 17.

Two young German film makers go to Palestine where, together with Manal,a Palestinian student from Jenin, they try to find out what really happened on March 31 2002: Shadi Tobassi, a suicide bomber from Jenin, blew himself up in the Arab-owned Matza Restaurant in Haifa, killing 15 people. Among those killed was Dov Chernobroda, an Israeli architect, who for his entire life had tried to bring about a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine. Eight years later his wife Yael would like to visit the family of the suicide bomber in Jenin.

Shadi‘s parents still seem to be in a state of shock. „We thought he was going to work just like every other day. He didn‘t even say goodbye,“ says Shadi‘s father with tears in his eyes. In the wall of their former living room there is a gaping hole. In response to the assassination the Israeli army destroyed the whole ground floor. In the explosion concrete blocks had flown through the room. Today clothes lines are hanging here.

Yaël often uses the word „terrorist“ when she speaks of Shadi. And then – for the first time in her life – she is saying his name: „Shadi Tobassi“. It seems to be a part of the process she is going through in her search for inner freedom and a dialogue with the Tobassis: „Every person has a name,“ she says. But she cannot imagine looking him straight in the eyes. On the wall of the Tobassis‘ living room there is a poster-size photograph of Shadi. The thought that she would have to see him in this photo if she came to Jenin is unbearable for Yaël. But she still wants to take this step because her husband would have been the first one to encourage her to do so.

Yaël picks up the telephone receiver and dials the number of the Tobassi family. The phone rings. A male voice answers. „Shalom? Shalom, my name is Yaël.“ Yaël will go to Jenin in peace to break down the wall of silence.

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“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.


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Festivals

2011 Germany  Doc.Fest Munich
2011 GermanyFünf Seen Festival
2011 GermanyStuttgarter Filmwinter
2011 PolandFestival Camera Obscura
2011 Israel

Haifa International Filmfestival

2011 UAEDubai International Filmfestival
2011 GermanyFilmfest Osnabrück
2011 GermanyCinema For Peace
2012 USAWorldfest Houston
2013 USAPalm Beach Jewish Film Festival
2013 AustraliaJewish Film Festival Brisbane

Awards

2011  Horizonte-Film Award Fünf Seen Filmfestival  
2011 Grand Prix de Ryszard Kapuscinski
2011

Cinema for Peace Award
Nominated for Best Documentary

2011 Audience Award Doc.fest Munich
2012 Gold Remi - International Houston Filmfestival



Jule Ott, Stefanie Bürger (Directors), Manal Abdallah (Co-Director), Mareike Müller (Camera), Aljoscha Haubt (Sound)

A Co-production with NDR and SWR

Year of production 2011
Lenght 81 Minuten
Format HD/35 mm
A production of FILMPERSPEKTIVE GmbH
In Co-production with

NDR, WDR

Directors Jule Ott, Stephanie Bürger
Co-Director Manal Abdallah
Director of Photography Mareike Müller
Sound Aljoscha Haupt
Sound Mix Aljoscha Haupt
Rebekha Singh
Producers Marcus Vetter, Fakhri Hamad
Commissioning editors Barbara Biemann (NDR)
Christiana Hinz (WDR)
Distribution Bukera Pictures
World sales Telepool