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Exile, A Myth Unearthed

A film by Ilan Ziv
Produced by the National Film Board of Canada, Alegria Productions, Amythos Media, and T.A.M.I. Productions

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It has been depicted in artwork, and lamented in poetry and prayer for nearly 2,000 years: the exile of the Jewish people from their homeland in the first century AD. But what if it never happened?

That is the central, provocative question explored in EXILE, A MYTH UNEARTHED, which looks at exile through the lenses of archaeology, history, myth and religion, and asks what it means for the contemporary struggle over land in the Middle East.

Under canvas tents, the members of an archaeological team painstakingly clean artifacts unearthed from the ancient town of Sepphoris, 150 kilometers from Jerusalem. Their findings are revolutionizing our understanding of Jewish history - including the central myth of Jewish exile following the destruction of the Second Temple during the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

While Jews may have been driven out of Jerusalem, it turns out they continued to thrive in Galilee, in places such as Sepphoris. As the film travels from Sepphoris to Masada and Jerusalem, and on to remote caves in the Judean desert and the catacombs of Rome, a picture emerges of a complex relationship between Jews and Romans, and between Judea and the Jewish Diaspora. "The Romans did not force people into exile," says historian Israel Yuval. "This is a Biblical image based on the Babylonians and Assyrians, but it was never Roman policy."

EXILE, A MYTH UNEARTHED features interviews with leading historians and archaeologists, and takes us into the field where they are conducting their work. Throughout the film we also return to a group of tourists visiting sites in the Holy Land, and hear the traditional interpretation of events such as the siege of Masada - an interpretation which stands in sharp contrast to the evidence unearthed in recent decades.

Ilan Ziv opens the film with this question and returns to it in the end: "What is being unearthed here in the ruins of Sephoris and Safuri is a message of hope, and a warning. The promise of hope from a town that survived for hundreds of years because of its capacity to embrace many cultures and traditions. And a warning contained in the destruction brought about by blind faith in a single narrative of history at the expense of others."

"A compelling documentary… Explores the evidence for the exile of the Jews after their defeat in Jerusalem by the Romans."The Independent

"Clearly a hot potato!"The Sunday Times

"Earnest and courageous; issues a challenge to viewers, encouraging them to imagine what a different past could mean for today."Al Jadid Magazine: A Review and Record of Arab Culture and Arts

2015 MESA FilmFest

104 minutes / Color
Release: 2014
Copyright: 2013

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Archaelogy, History (World), Jewish Film Festivals, Jewish Studies, Israel, Middle East, Palestine

Watch the trailer:

Related Links:
The List of Participants in Exile, A Myth Unearthed
The Films of Ilan Ziv

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