Live-Action Short White Eye by director Tomer Shushan is not only a brilliant film but also an eye-opening film that addresses the topic of immigration. A film that is shot so beautifully, White Eye has won numerous amount of accolades including the Oscar-qualifying Awards at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival and the 2020 UrbanWorld Film Festival, Best Narrative Short Film Award at the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival, Best Narrative film at El Paso Film Festival, Golden Fireball Award for Best Short Film at Kohsiung Film Festival, Best Short Film Award at Leeds International Short Film Festival and many more. We were able to speak with Tomer about his award-winning short film and why the topic of immigration is so important to him.
You briefly touched upon the fears immigrants face. Why portray an argument between an immigrant and a native?
Local citizens can never understand how it is to be an immigrant, especially if they are illegal. To wake up every morning and go to sleep being afraid of the moment that the authorities will discover you. To know that any day they can send them back to their countries where they are all wanted by the government. Immigrants from Africa live life that westerns can never understand. When I made this film I wanted to confront a local person and immigrant. To show that justice is not part of the game. Only foretold hierarchy.
What are your opinions concerning immigration in your home country?
By the people, it’s very divided. What concerns me a lot is how the government treats them. The former ministry of culture said that immigrants are like a tumor cancer in the body of israeli society. I think that says all about the hate that comes from the people who can be sound, on people who keep being mute.
Personally, I would be angry upon locating my stolen bike, but eventually sympathetic learning its new home is with a struggling family. It appeared that the main character displayed no sympathy towards the situation until it escalated. Was it your intention to prove that humanity only attempts to redeem itself once reaching a point of no return?
Yes, I also think that sometimes it takes time to understand the consequences of our actions, especially when the ego starts to talk instead of our common sense and the real values that you believe in. When you start to work from ego it’s very hard to stop, especially when everything happens so fast and there is no time to take a breath for a second to check if you are loyal to yourself. More than this, if maybe harm the person next to you? All we want is to go back in time.
No matter how many times the police failed the main character he proceeded to give them more chances. Why did he have more faith in them (who proved they didn’t care about the bike) than a man begging him to understand his truth?
The main character found his bike and wanted to bring justice back to himself. And was insisting to do it by the law. But when the law became another obstacle in his way, he found himself trapped between abiding the law and being moral.
What emotion did you want the audience to be left with at the conclusion of the film?
I hope that after watching this movie, a person will ask themselves what they would do in such a situation, or from that point when a person is facing the weaker, they will try to look at the situation from a different angle and not just from their own place and ego. Eventually, the material is biodegradable, it has no value without the human psyche that defines it. What defines a person is their actions in the world.
Do you feel pressured to create another great film after the success of White Eye?
To Be honest, I never expected such a success for White Eye when I wrote this script. There is no right of existing for an artist that creates for success. It’s also paralyzing to work from this perspective. you can easily lose all the authenticity and relevance. The only thing I care about in my creations is the organic world that I build and the topic I want to deal with myself and with the audience.
Do you plan to delve deeper into the topic of immigration in future films?
I always wrote about the status difference in society, even when I was planning to write about that other topic. It’s burning inside me that we still live in a time when the hierarchy is very clear. I think it’s very important to bring it to more and more eyes and souls. In that case, I am blessed that I had the opportunity to show this story to lots of people from all over, also, the fact that White Eye gets lots of credits to show me that people can identify with the topic.
Currently, I am developing White Eye into a feature film. And working on another feature Idea that confronts people from the different side of the social status map. And their destiny reshuffles because of it.
You depicted many side characters that displayed little to no sympathy towards the bike situation. Only offering help under a condition. Was it your intention to depict humans as self-absorbed beings? Why?
No, I believe in humanity, and I think that the only way for us as human beings to live in harmony is if you will help each other. In the film there it’s divided by the people who help under condition and those who help and feel compassion for the situation and there are also people who are there but don’t want to be involved at all. Because that’s the real world. People are diverse. The story is about one human being that can’t see another human being in front of him.