Let me ask you something personal, How do you react when certain presented facts challenge your current belief systems? How do you feel when the core values that have been doctrine into your mind from your childhood are dismantled ? or what you have gathered from your surroundings is found to be diametrically opposite to the real truth? A similar kind of internal dialogue and dilemma has been presented through the documentary film- ‘The Viewing Booth’.
It is directed, co-produced and co-edited by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, an Israeli filmmaker. He has made some really informative documentaries like ‘The Inner Tour’ and ‘The Law In These Parts‘ about the injustice upon Palestinians.
The Viewing Booth is an interesting addition to his series of filmmaking. It is now from a neutral standpoint, an experimental standpoint representing his content from the point of view of both sides.
So, what is it all about?
How our rationality plays and how we apply our conscience to the facts that the media presents in front of us.
The Experiment of The Viewing Booth
An experiment established by Virginia Woolf is set forth into action by Alexandrowicz. 7 people participated in this experiment, along with Jewish American university student Maia Levy. The original Call for participation was made to Temple University.
Fortunately, one of the original participants backed out abruptly at the last moment, so she got lucky to participate in the experiment. She thus became the eye from which we are going to experience the movie.
She becomes the ideal candidate as she tends to have radically different political views from Alexandrowicz, yet she is a curious and critical viewer.
A thought experiment with 40 video clips presented to volunteers depicting a volatile scene of the Israeli occupation of the West bank. The Sources of the video clips were not being disclosed to volunteers. The video belongs either to the right-wing or maybe pro Palestine. The reactions of all the participants to the content were recorded, and thoughts were noted as each was visually shown to them.
To Validate their hypothesis, they conducted a case-control study and subsequently established that a person interprets and finds, into his existing set of beliefs, a new set of information.
Rethinking What You Know From “the Viewing Booth”
The movie has taken up a unique way of portraying the worldview. It is Changing the way cinema explores a certain event by focusing the lens of the camera on the inside of the protagonists. With dialogue that are real-time internal dilemmas and ruminations of the Maia presented over the screen as she goes through the video one by one.
With vast amounts of handy information, we have become apathetic about checking the authentication. The documentary demonstrates that the insanity of the media has not helped people to become more rational but gave them a tool to twist the facts in accordance with their credence.
Maia Levy, through the eyes of which the movie progresses, has a background with parents belonging to Israel. She is an American student who was strongly inclined towards Israeli forces, as is evident by her justification for soldiers aggression in words: “they opened fire as a suspected bombing might have been reported.”
The experiment not just captures her reaction to the videos but also her reaction to questioning herself from within throughout the experiment. As new information unfolded, her stance on the crucial and delicate matter changed completely.
Lessons to Learn From the Viewing Booth
The film will leave the viewer pondering about the implications and responsibility being a spectator of the media brings with it.
Witnessing all our varied emotions verbalized gives us a view towards not just her mindset but how the psychology of viewership in the digital era works.
This documentary received excellent feedback with 7 out of 10 on IMDb.
Release History of The Viewing Booth
In May 2019, Docaviv, in Tel Aviv, Israel, presented The Viewing Booth as part of the festival’s Israeli Competition. It was then shown at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2020 and at Doc NYC in New York City from November 11 to November 19, 2020.
It is one of the amazing documentaries, and I have surely added it to the list of my favourite documentaries along with “Homeroom“, and “Val“. If you haven’t watched it yet, then you are missing some seriously amazing pieces, so don’t wait just watch the documentary on theviewingboothfilm.com.
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