Amit Berlowitz | The Seven Valleys

Amit Berlowitz | The Seven Valleys

The Dead Sea, 2018, 18 minutes, 16 mm

Editing: Godefroy Fouray | Cinematography: Ziv Berkovich, Daniel Miller, Itay Gross | Choreography: Adi Boutros |Original Music (Kamanche): Noam Dayan | Sound Design: Michael Goorevich |Costume Design: Tali Kushnir, Odelia Arnold

Amit Berlowitz is a photographer and an art film maker. In her recent works she creates visual adaptations for Western and Eastern canonical texts, thus reflecting the emotional world common to all human beings.

Berlowitz decided to film her new, seven-chapter-long film – The Seven Valleys – in the Dead Sea area. The unique presence of the Dead Sea may deceive us into thinking it is eternal, yet it is fragile and transient, like humans. In this ancient and awe-inspiring landscape, boys and girls perform a series of phrases – bodily gestures in limited and symbolic movement – which allude to the journey (or a personal-spiritual investigation) we embark on to find ways of dealing with our very being and existence in the world.

The film is inspired by The Conference of the Birds, a 12th century poem by Sufi poet and mistic Farid Ud-Din Attar. Attar describes this inner spiritual journey through the story of the bird leaders who venture on a quest for meaning. The mysticism, truth and inventiveness perceived as the essence of Sufism, are embodied in Attar's seven valleys, symbolizing quest, love, knowledge, detachment, unity, wonderment, poverty and annihilation.

A Bird Asks About the Journey’s Length

Guardian of the Way, we’re dizzy

under the weight of this journey.

The road ahead looks arduous. 

How far is the destination, friend?

The Hoopoe Speaks of the seven Valleys

My impatient bird, no one knows how far

one must travel to the portal to that Great Court. 

No one has ever made that journey and returned, 

for upon arrival, the Wayfarer becomes

lost and absorbed.. 

There are seven valleys we must traverse

to reach the Beloved’s door. 

First is the Valley of Quest, 

followed by the Valley of Love. 

Third comes the Valley of Knowledge, 

fourth, the Valley of Detachment, 

followed by the Valley of Unity. 

Sixth is Valley of Wonderment, 

When you reach the seventh, 

the Valley of Poverty and Annihilation, 

you can go no further. You will lose all your volition and succumb to being pulled in. 

If you arrive as a drop, you will join and become the Ocean.

Just like the reader of the poem, the spectator of the film traverses seven valleys. Together with the actors, Berlowitz created a subtle game, in which consciousness dictates dramatic processes. Although different from the ones Attar uses in his poem, they establish a full synergy between the ancient texts and the actors' monotonous motions, until the collective "I" is distilled into one enlightened being. The entire journey takes place before our eyes from beginning to end: the worship of nature as nature, the liberation from the chains of ignorance, renouncement, eternal truth (infinity).

Adi Englman