'Jericho's Echo: Punk Rock in the Holy Land'
Rebels, with cause

SAN FRANCISCO FILMMAKER Liz Nord ("Dear Mr. Bush") opens a fascinating window on the tight-knit Israeli punk scene with her energetic new documentary. At first glance, the live shows in Jericho's Echo: Punk Rock in the Holy Land could be anyplace in the United States, with excited audiences jumping around to three-minute anthems. Listen closer, though, and the lyrics, be they in English or Hebrew, reflect anxiety about living in the conflicted Israel-Palestine region, a place where Israeli teens face mandatory military service. Nord's subjects – an articulate, friendly (if occasionally menacing-looking) bunch – are wildly diverse; there are younger, more idealistic left-leaners who plan to plead insanity to get out of their army duties, as well as an older, right-wing contingent who have already served their time and, having seen friends die in front of them, are hardened by their experiences. One group wistfully recall their late lead singer, killed in a bus bombing, while another rocker seems jaded by the violence: "You get used to it. It just happens so often." Nord's interviews reveal a community bound together not just by an adventurous fashion sense but also by a remarkable open-mindedness and desire for peace with Palestine. The subculture's further nuances are revealed by Nord's excellent choice of side stories – chatting with the few women in the scene, as well as shadowing one spiky-haired kid's uneasy truce with his deeply religious brother – and her inclusion of remarkable, impossible-to-imagine-here details, including one band whose members serve in the army all week, then rush home to play gigs on the weekends. Victoria Theatre. (Cheryl Eddy)