The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden

Directed by: Ran Tal
74 minutes

East Coast Premiere

Hebrew/Arabic/Russian/Portugese/Yiddish with English subtitles

Each year, 400,000 people escape from the stress of daily life at the idyllic Gan HaShlosha National Park in Israel—better known as the Sakhne (Arab for “hot spring”)—which features swimming year-round. Though the park’s regulars dispute the origins of the warm, soothing waters that gather in the spring, it does nothing to diminish their enjoyment of this oasis of tranquility and friendship.

In a loose parallel, the bathers and barbecuers have each taken their own personal—and often painful—journeys before basking in the Sakhne’s natural splendor. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus—all gather here to seek respite and one form of purification or another in the healing waters of this popular holiday destination.

In THE GARDEN OF EDEN, Gan HaShlosha serves as the picturesque backdrop for director Ran Tal’s portrait of the multilayered Israeli national character itself. Visitors and their personal histories represent the very essence of the nation’s diversity, complexity, conflict, and beauty. Family strife, the ravages of war, alienation and isolation, flight and asylum—these themes of torment necessarily inform a profile of the land and its people. Even so, Tal’s footage of those same people relishing life’s simplest pleasures in apparent relaxation and good humor speaks volumes about the buoyancy and endurance of the Israeli spirit.

—Sandra L. Frey